Relevance and Convenience Prioritized by Both Employers and EmployeesRobert David | Director of Corporate and Professional Programs, UC Berkeley Extension
The corporate and executive education marketplaces are incredibly lucrative, but also immensely competitive. Employers have high expectations of their learning partners—both in the manner of the partnership and in its outcomes. Employees also expect a great deal from learning interventions. It’s up to the training partner to meet and exceed these expectations, and while some universities thrive under this pressure, others crumble. UC Berkeley has been very successful in understanding and meeting the needs of their corporate learning partners, using the resources available to the institution and expanding offerings to ensure they are a step ahead of their prospective client pool. In this interview, Robert David reflects on the high expectations of corporate learning stakeholders today and shares his thoughts on how he expects to the see the corporate and executive education marketplace expand in the future.
The EvoLLLution (Evo): What are some of the characteristics that can help a college or university stand out in the competitive corporate training marketplace?
Robert David (RD): There are a few key features that distinguish leaders like UC Berkeley in the corporate education arena.
First off, the skills and knowledge of faculty and instructors are key differentiators. Second, our areas of subject matter expertise and the resources we bring to the table help us to stand out. And finally, our access to experienced faculty-practitioners.
As the top-ranked public university in the United States, UC Berkeley has access to many of the brightest minds in the world and accompanying resources. Our symbiotic relationship with Silicon Valley drives a culture of innovation, mastery and learning from failure.
These features all contribute to the quality of learning outcomes and the ability to apply what is taught in the classroom or online to immediate, real-world scenarios.
Evo: What are some of the key expectations employers bring to the table when looking for a prospective training partner?
RD: When it comes to education partnerships, employers want prospective partners to understand their employee learning needs and deliver corporate education solutions tailored to business challenges. They are not only looking for short-term results but also long-term impact on their bottom lines.
Being able to create custom-designed programs and tailor existing ones while offering a variety of open-admission programs provide the breath required for UC Berkeley to meet a wide range of expectations.
Evo: What are some of the expectations employees have when they participate in a corporate learning activity?
RD: There are a few key expectations that employees bring to the table when enrolled in a corporate learning program.
Employees want to be engaged in authentic learning experiences—they want what is taught be relevant to their jobs and meaningful to their careers.
Convenience is also critical, as they are looking to access trainings when it fits into their own schedules. Being able to deliver training programs using different modalities—in class and online as well as synchronous and asynchronous—increases employee engagement.
For example, the appeal of our four-week Berkeley Accelerators (a mixed-modality series focusing on leadership, negotiations and influence) is how well it works for people’s schedules around the world while offering varying levels of engagement.
Evo: How do you expect to see the formal corporate education space evolve over the next decade?
RD: I anticipate the corporate education marketplace will evolve initially to be even more focused on shorter programs and blended learning (classroom and online) as travel budgets are pared down and time away from daily tasks needs to be minimized. Executive Education and Corporate Education are dynamic landscapes with changing business needs.
Over time, prized employee populations and more complex programs will result in additional opportunities. The marketplace will place even more value on inter-module and post-event high-touch coaching as much as the basic content and competencies delivered.
This bodes well for partnerships with the coaching industry, and I expect to see more educational experiences bundled with follow up tools and learning and development analytics to ensure maximum impact of the investment.