How a Successful Customized Training Division Benefits the Rest of the InstitutionCarol Howard | Director of the School of Extended Education, Brandman University
Many postsecondary institutions now include some form of corporate and customized training division. And most of them provide numerous benefits to these divisions, including access to academic faculty and programming. But the successful corporate training division also gives back to the institution in a variety of ways.
Here are a few of those benefits:
Pathway to Degree Programs
When designing corporate training programs for our clients, we try to get at the root of the issue and not just the symptom. What is the true issue and, if corrected, what would that new state look like? From there we can articulate the learning outcomes and then develop the best possible solution. Sometimes that program or course already exists or at least the general framework is in place. Sometimes we have to create a highly customized solution. As we step back and evaluate these programs, it becomes obvious that deep learning is taking place, often at a very high level. So it makes sense to map these competencies to academic equivalencies and award appropriate credit to the participants. The accomplishment of learning and the validation of it by the university is often the first connection a participant makes with their need or desire to pursue additional educational opportunities. That can be the first step for a new or returning student to pursue a degree program.
In corporate training, we are tasked with fulfilling the needs of the corporate environment. And to further understand what those are, we utilize a collection of advisory boards to inform our programming. Influential thought leaders, industry experts and local entrepreneurs are among those we invite to sit at the table so we can hear firsthand where the needs are and the types of solutions being sought. At the same time, we have faculty and adjuncts collectively involved in those conversations so that we gain an understanding of how identified needs can best be met. Corporate training divisions benefit from those conversations by gathering early information, but the academic side of the house also profits by ensuring they include solutions inside certificate and degree programs that directly tie back to the corporate world thus giving their students the real-world knowledge and skills they will need upon graduation.
Contemporary Corporate Thought in Programs
Learning is one of the primary goals for institutions of higher education and program learning outcomes are becoming increasingly tied to what the student can master and apply in their work environment. So it only makes sense that those outcomes be informed by what is actually going to be needed in that work environment. Advisory boards play a large role in that, but the knowledge housed in the corporate training area is also valuable. Our daily conversations take us into every industry at multiple levels and provide insights that sometimes confirm but often add to the dialogue. Additionally, programs developed out of corporate training can be the basis of courses and academic certificates that carry real-world application further into a university. When we are able to add to the discussion, we positively affect degree and program development through additional contemporary corporate thought, and students and the institution as a whole benefit.
New SMEs for Adjuncts
Our communication with our clients often begins with the upper levels of human resources or learning and development. The need is identified but in order to truly flesh out the optimal solution, we always want to speak directly to those involved in the impacted area. Those conversations often lead to individuals within the organization that are subject matter experts (SMEs) in their fields, the very individuals we seek to design and deliver our programs. While not every SME is interested in content development and even fewer are initially skilled at facilitation, we do find a wealth of available talent to work with us in corporate training. Often, our SMEs find such value in sharing their expertise, they make the step to adjunct and teach academic courses as well. This brings the work world even closer for students in degree programs, affording them the opportunity to learn from, interact and make connections with those that may well become their colleagues and mentors or represent those that will.
Learning and revenue have long been separate conversations in higher education. But the realities of budgets, coupled with proliferation of multiple learning opportunities, makes it necessary to bring them together. Corporate training inside a university can leverage the expertise of its faculty and adjuncts as well as support resources and research. In return, it provides a revenue stream that can be vital to the financial health of the university. There is the thought that a corporate training division is an expensive endeavor both financially and in terms of talent resources, but a positive revenue stream coupled with exposure to organizational clients, many of whom have employees seeking further individual development, make that a positive investment.
Sometimes viewed as the different kid on the educational block, custom and corporate training divisions can use those same distinctions to provide real value to the postsecondary institution. They are not intended to replace the many benefits of higher education as a whole, but can serve as a very useful addition that brings students, experts and other resources to the door.