What are the e-learning platforms requirements for training 4.0? As part of the incentives for the implementation of the digital transition, in Italy companies can pursue the IT training of their employees through e-learning platforms for teaching 4.0 skills related to technologies such as big data analysis, cloud computing, virtual reality, etc.
Given the widespread use of e-learning platforms, the government has not ruled out their use, provided that they meet given standards to ensure the effective transfer of skills eligible for 4.0 training and proper teaching, conducted in the manner and within the timeframe provided. In other words, in order to benefit from the tax credit provided by the measure, employers must prove that the employees involved have actually attended the course for the number of hours necessary to acquire new knowledge to be applied for the digital transformation of the company.
So let’s see what requirements distance learning platforms must comply with, as not all of them have the same characteristics.
The training 4.0 tax credit, already present since 2017 in the Impresa 4.0 National Plan, has been extended for the whole of 2021 and until 2022. The aim is to encourage companies to extend digital culture among their employees, with a view to the transition needed to reorganise business models in a smart direction. The implementation of new technologies in production processes is now a practice that is gaining ground among companies of all sizes.
Digital technologies have brought a number of advantages that Italian companies must adopt in order to remain competitive in a globalised landscape. The benefits are diverse: from the automation of production to the use of virtual and augmented reality for the immediate acquisition of practical skills, from the use of virtual tools for rapid prototyping to the increased ability to store big data. These innovations are accompanied by the need to protect one’s own computer systems, hence the importance of acquiring cyber-security rudiments and best practices.
Specifically, the training 4.0 tax credit finances the acquisition of the following skills:
Clearly, 4.0 skills go far beyond mere digital literacy. Rather, it is a body of knowledge that for many sectors represents the key to making their business model more resilient to the challenges of modernity.
THE REQUIREMENTS OF LMS PLATFORMS FOR TRAINING 4.0
It is clear that DL platforms delivering such advanced e-skills need to be equally cutting edge. The e-learning software used by companies must have certain characteristics that guarantee compliance with certain teaching standards, starting with the verification of the actual acquisition of skills. The overall responsibility for monitoring the correct delivery of learning falls on the employers themselves, who must therefore pay particular attention to the choice of e-learning platform.
As always when it comes to tax benefits, the aspect of checking that the courses are actually carried out is particularly important. The companies must verify both the acquisition of skills by the trainees and collect all the relevant documentation that the Tax Agency will verify in subsequent checks.
The e-learning platforms must have certain features that allow a high level of modularity of the courses, such as the possibility of asking questions at random intervals that must be answered to continue the lesson.
The e-learning software must also contribute to the preservation of personal training records. These must be signed by the student and the teacher.
As we will see later, in addition to the requirements explicitly demanded of e-learning platforms for training 4.0, there are standards adopted only by some e-learning software developers that facilitate compliance with the regulation.
HOW A TRAINING 4.0 LESSON SHOULD BE CARRIED OUT
Specifically, in formulating the course, the teacher in charge, who may also be external (accompanied by an internal tutor) or an employee of the company, must provide for a minimum of four questions for each hour of the course. During these tests, the learner will be asked a randomly selected multiple-choice question from a set of at least three questions that are not particularly complex (just to test the learner’s attention). If the wrong answer is selected, in the case of asynchronous LMS, the user has to go back and follow again the part of the lesson to which the test referred. A new question, different from the previous one, must be asked at a different and unpredictable time. Only once the correct answer has been selected can the user continue to the next session.
At the end of the course, the employee must pass a final test, which must consist of twice as many questions as the number of hours of the course. To pass the test, at least half of the answers must be correct.
TRAINING 4.0 DOCUMENTATION
The use of synchronous or asynchronous LMS implies, for companies, the obligation to use adequate control tools to ensure the real and continuous participation of the staff involved in the training activities. But since companies rely on external platforms, it is obvious that control functions should already be present in the software itself.
For example, the measure requires the e-learning platform, in the case of asynchronous e-learning, to automatically issue a precise monitoring of the hours and minutes during which the employee has used the service, together with a report on the training activity. At the end of the course, the legal representative of the company must sign a self-certification on the results produced by the investment in training activities eligible for the tax credit, giving an account not only of the participation, but also of the learning or consolidation of digital skills to be applied in the company sector of reference.
At the end of the course, the teacher or tutor must draw up a report explaining the organisation and content of the training activities carried out. In the event of failure to submit the necessary documentation, the Tax Agency will recover the relevant amount, plus interest and penalties in accordance with the law. For this reason, it is important to rely on a LMS platform of proven reliability, which is modular and provides direct technical assistance.
HOW TO CHOOSE AN LMS PLATFORM FOR TRAINING 4.0
Monitoring the acquisition of 4.0 skills by employees is not only for tax purposes, but it is also in the company’s own interest to ensure that the skills of the future are embedded within the company. It is only through a significant affirmation of digitalisation in the corporate culture that it is possible to improve the responsiveness of the business to crises and technological innovations. We would also like to remember that training 4.0 is not only about acquiring new skills, but also involves those employees who, at various levels, have knowledge that needs updating.
As we were saying, since this is distance learning, it is the employers themselves who are expected to monitor the effective implementation of the training activities. Therefore, when choosing an e-learning platform, we recommend that you pay attention to those that offer functions that can make it easier to carry out the teaching and the related checks. These include the facial recognition software that has been integrated into the e-Logos platform for many years, which verifies that the user is actually in front of the display during the lesson and he or she is following the video and it’s not someone else.
To summarise, ODL platforms for 4.0 training should have the following features
A user-friendly and customisable graphical interface will facilitate the acquisition of skills by employees, especially those who are less familiar with IT. Finally, another prerequisite is the use of the SCORM format in learning objects.
HOW TO ACCESS THE TRAINING 4.0 TAX CREDIT
Training 4.0 is a measure aimed at supporting companies in the process of digital and technological transformation with the creation or consolidation of skills in enabling technologies related to the 4.0 paradigm.
The training 4.0 tax credit is recognised to the extent of:
The expenses eligible for the tax credit are those relating to the transmission of 4.0 skills in the business areas of: sales and marketing, information technology, production techniques and technology. In order to qualify for the tax credit, which must be indicated in the tax return, it is necessary to enclose certification that the eligible expenses have actually been incurred.
In addition, in view of the subsequent checks by the Tax Agency, the following must be drawn up and kept: the report on the organisational methods and contents of the training activities; the records of each lesson; further administrative and accounting documentation demonstrating the correct application of the benefit.
The acquisition and growth of 4.0 skills is an important objective for all companies that want to reshape their core business in a smart and sustainable direction. For in-company training, many have already relied on VITECO’s e-Logos FAD platforms, a technological partner of many companies throughout Europe and a reference point in the world of e-learning since 2004.
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