Can Online Learning Help You Get a Job?
Recent studies (The Economist, 1996) show that it is more efficient to give young people basic education and skills for employment than to offer remedial training when they are older and unemployed’, (Daniel, 1998). In this regard, online learning is then viewed as an ‘educational revolution’ (Calonge & Shah, 20166), which would enable job entrants to connect to the local and even global economy. The scalability and availability of this new form of learning enabled it to be promoted as a tool guaranteeing employability.
But would this new technology-based form of learning help Algerian job seekers to win a job?
70% of the Algerian population are under 30 years old, which comprises a large number of unemployed young people (Oxford Business Group, 2010). A real boon, such a sizeable youth population can give potential to the notion that young people can be positive game-changers in the national economy. However, most employers fully acknowledge a lack on basic core skills among the Algerian workforce.
Various factors contribute in delimiting young job-seekers from enhancing their interpersonal skills.
- A mismatch in skills-building at university or professional development institutions level
- A near absence of free of charge quality training resources
- A lack of a more engaging attitude at work
- A socio-cultural believe on a circulatory network of nepotism
- A social vulnerability of young people with no employment, education or training
- Labour absorption of the informal market and/or sector
Standard way of thinking of classical classroom conditioned education as the only solution to equip learners with the right skills, is now challenged with new ICT (Information and Communications Technology) resources. This new version of distance education attracts of a huge number of participants from around the globe. This is why at first, MOOCs, one of the forms on online learning, were extolled as an innovative solution for a global education under the Education for All (Hoel, 2014) ideology. In a TED presentation, Daphne Koller (2012), one of the co-founders of Coursera, used the South African University stampede of 2012 to hook up the audience attention and decision makers. She explains the disparity between leading world organisations and governments in, ‘establishing education as the fundamental of human rights’ (ibid.). Further to that, the new movement also promoted the idea of online education as an answer to global unemployment.
With this in mind, E-learning is playing the role of skills supplier in Algeria. MOOCs are playing the role of skills supplier in Algeria. Considering that the younger generation is comprised of digital natives who assiduously have open access to technology, ‘44% people in the MENA said that they keep informed by the market through online courses’ (Burke, 2016). An excellent example of youth willingness to acquire new skills and their openness to new ICT tools was when the British Council launched the English Language and Culture Massive Open Online Course, in 2014. Chris Neil (2015) explains that Algeria was the country in the Arab world with the largest number of subscribers. Such an awareness of online education and its potential has also recently been acknowledged by leading human resource entities in the country. 77% of human resource managers in Algeria believe that the future of professional development training will be online (Huffpost Algérie, 2016). For instance, the use of MOOCs according to the same surveyed cohort, would then present accelerated interactive courses with attractive content and optimal training costs for companies, subsequently answering ‘societal needs related to education and training’ (Bonk et al., 2015: 14). Accordingly, there is a boom in the Algerian online learning sector, with the appearance of new pedagogical platforms that aim to provide useful and context-related content to young users.
To end up, continued efforts are needed to make E-learning more accessible and relevant to the Algerian context. The absence of accurate data has undermined the feasibility of online education in the country but at the same time shows youth interest in acquiring new core skills online. At this stage, it is important to denote that online education can contribute to the enhancement of potential job seekers.