Published on 2012/09/19

The Recovering Corporate Market Presents New Opportunities for Continuing Education

As corporations begin to recover from the recession, many employers are looking to increase their investment in employee continuing education. It’s up to higher education institutions to make sure they are ready to meet that need with robust programming suited to the needs of the workforce.

Does e-learning technology open up new corporate markets for universities and colleges?


Certainly employers like the convenience of online learning but, when it comes to enterprise-wide training, what they want most is content that is customized to their specifications and helps them to achieve very specific goals.

A recent survey by Chief Learning Officer magazine indicates that companies are increasing their investment in their own internal learning management systems, while reliance on “outsourced learning” is declining.

The author of the report, Cushing Anderson, says, “The clear first choice is developing in-house training options.  This reflects a cost-savings attitude and recognition that relevance of instruction is critical to its value…  These internally-produced courses are typically related to unique knowledge or processes within the enterprise.”[1]

For those of us in continuing education, I think this does open up opportunities for using our instructional design skills and subject matter experts to help corporate clients create customized programs.  However, in my mind, the bigger opportunity is to do more of what we do best – enable individuals to continually refresh their skills, knowledge and insights.

Most employers can’t afford to help their staff members stay current within their profession or explore new career paths; that’s what they expect us to do, whether in face-to-face classroom settings or online.

Further they would prefer to invest in those who take charge of their own learning via tuition reimbursement and the good news is that investment in these programs is on the rise. According to the same Chief Learning Officer magazine survey, one quarter of employers expect to increase their tuition budgets in the coming year.

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[1] Chief Learning Officer, Sept. 2011, “The Road to Recovery” by Cushing Anderson, p. 50-52.

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Readers Comments

Zandra Thomas 2012/09/18 at 8:23 pm

I agree with Vicki; I think we need to be more vocal about our ability to deliver more than specialized ongoing education opportunities. We can absorb a huge cost (both in terms of money and time) for employers by delivering what has been commonly seen as “internal” learning and development to employees. This encompasses the everyday, “mundane” skills and information updates that employees need to perform their jobs effectively.

Rick Poston 2012/09/19 at 9:13 am

I have to think our competitive advantage goes beyond expertise in instructional design. As an industry, we have expertise in creating and delivering learning solutions that no private contractor could match.

I think higher education institutions need to open their ears and start delivering programming in exactly the format employers want; on-site, online, whatever.

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