A report on the UK e-learning sector in 2009 – ‘The UK e-learning market 2009’ – published this month by Learning Light, the Sheffield-based centre of excellence in the use of e-learning and learning technologies in the workplace, paints an optimistic picture: stating that the sector is ‘flowering’ despite the recession. The report’s principal finding is that the UK e-learning industry remains ‘robustly positive in its view of the market and the prospect for continuing growth’. Using financial modeling and third party research, the report suggests that the annual size of the UK e-learning industry is currently between £300m and £450m; with growth rates forecast of between 6.7% and 8% for 2010.


“Our view is based not just on more companies using e-learning and learning technologies but also on such factors as marketing departments commissioning learning materials to support customers,” commented David Patterson one of the report’s three authors. “Another key factor is the adeptness with which the UK e-learning industry is adopting and exploiting new media for delivering learning, such as gaming and immersive learning scenarios, leading to the eventual contextualisation and personalisation of learning being promoted by companies such as the LCMS producer, Giunti Labs.”


The report acknowledges that the current recession has resulted in downward price pressure on developers and vendors; while cuts in training budgets and public sector projects have also had an adverse effect. Nonetheless, Patterson and his co-authors – Glyn Jung and Gillian Broadhead – remain optimistic that the UK’s e-learning industry, concentrated in its two principal hubs around Sheffield and Brighton, is set fair to weather the economic downturn.


“There is no doubt that companies will come and go – just as they did in the easier times,” said Gillian Broadhead. “We can only reflect the optimism and confidence, the innovation and enthusiasm that characterised our research findings.”


In passing, the Learning Light report mentions that the UK e-learning market, along with the e-learning market in Scandinavia, is one of the most mature e-learning markets in Europe. Patterson said: “We believe the Scandinavian market to be worth some €1bn – compared with the UK’s €650m to €700m. The Scandinavian market is forecast to grow at eight per cent over the next year – a figure which could also be attributed to the UK market. The next largest market in Europe is that of France – but this is predicted to grow in the next year by some 15% to between €300m to €350m. An aggregate of the UK, Scandinavian and French e-learning markets accounts for some 80% of the total European market.”


Comment: This report began as an update on the report (available from Learning Light’s e-Learning Centre website, www.e-learningcentre.co.uk) written by John Helmer, on behalf of Learning Light, in 2007. Whatever you think about the accuracy – or otherwise – of Learning Light’s figures, at the very least this report is a serious attempt at quantifying the UK’s e-learning sector. It’s the most comprehensive set of figures that anyone has – and their real value will be seen in the future, providing ‘base figures’ for comparison with contemporary findings.


‘The UK e-learning market 2009’ report is available, as a free download, from http://www.creativesheffield.co.uk/