Today's managers face a world of ever growing complexity. New technologies and systems, spreading globalisation, and corporate restructuring mean that managers have to cope with continuous change. With delayering they have to accept a greater span of responsibility, not only for their specialist function, but also for the overall strategic view of gene- ral management.
It is hardly surprising that managers regularly have to acquire new knowledge and skills to keep abreast of the demands made on them. The need for lifelong learning has become a reality for them.
A minority of managers join their organisations through a formal graduate management training scheme. They undertake an extended programme of management education and development. Many take a part- time MBA or a related postgraduate qualification in their thirties, usually with the encouragement and support of their employers.
But for most managers, training and development tends to be more haphazard. Many enter specialist functions directly and only later move into management roles. Their management training tends to be piecemeal, often provided by external organisations in major cities or in-house.
Many organisations provide a comprehensive range of such short courses. Some are commercial firms, like Fielden-Cegos, which runs courses on more than 100 different topics such as interviewing skills, time management, delegation, report writing, finance for non- financial managers, and managing change (Tel 0161 445 2426 or www.fielden-cegos.co.uk). Others are charities, like the Industrial Society which has 10,000 member organisations. The society will run over 150 courses this year for all levels of management from first- line supervisors to board directors (Tel. 020-7262 2401 or www.insoc.co.uk).
Professional institutions similarly run short courses dealing with particular aspects of their specialism. For example, this year the Institute of Personnel and Development is running more than 400 training events in personnel, reward management, training and development, and employment law (Tel 020 8263 3434 or www.ipd.co.uk/ training).
Many short courses aim to update the knowledge and skills of experienced managers. For instance, several business schools, best known for offering masters degrees in business administration, offer short courses and "master- classes" to keep their MBA graduates and other executives up to date with the latest developments in general management. With the current and accelerating pace of change, knowledge redundancy is a real problem in almost every sphere, and lifelong learning is now essential if one is to keep abreast of one's specialism. …