Having established a “learning exchange” in Singapore in collaboration with the government-owned Singapore Civil Service School, consultancy Accenture is looking to a similar initiative in other countries, including New Zealand.
The Singapore government has a “life-long learning” plan, directed at continuing education outside formal academic institutions, including learning opportunities for retired people, says Kevin Dixon, managing partner of Accenture’s Asia-Pacific government practice.
The Learning Exchange provides students with online courses through the web and with access to an internet “marketplace” where a full range of courses, including online learning, printed private-study material and physically present group courses with a tutor, can be reviewed, ordered and purchased.
The exchange is based on software known as Blue Flipper, and a web portal, developed jointly by Accenture, which was formerly known as Andersen Consulting, and the Singapore government. Blue Flipper includes integrated training tools, learner administration systems and the link to the marketplace. The portal is intended to aid the user in finding pertinent learning products and suppliers.
The smarts are not confined to the software, says Dixon; perhaps the more important part of the learning exchange is its business case, economic model and concept. It is based, for example on giving providers a large catchment of learners that they could never reach with an on-the-road sales staff.
It is essential, though, to commit a substantial client to using the system up front — in the initial case, the Singapore Civil Service College, says Dixon. That gives the cashflow and the reputation to assist in gaining new clients. “It’s no good building it in isolation, standing up and saying ‘here it is’ and expecting people to rush in.” The providers of learning material and courses pay for use of the exchange on a per-transaction basis.
Dixon says he has “had interesting discussions” with New Zealand government representatives, though nothing approaching a definite commitment has emerged yet.
Meanwhile, the use of the exchange continues to grow in Singapore, where it formally started in August. At present the government and several large corporates are clients, Dixon says.