Magazine article Training & Development

Partnerships Net Big Wins

Magazine article Training & Development

Partnerships Net Big Wins

Article excerpt

AS COMPETITION HEATS UP, MANY BUSINESSES--ESPECIALLY SMALL ONES--ARE FINDING THAT THEY JUST CAN'T OFFER THE KIND OF TRAINING THAT THEIR EMPLOYEES NEED. THE SOLUTION MAY LIE IN PARTNERSHIPS IN WHICH POST-SECONDARY SCHOOLS, COMPANIES, AND TRAINING SUPPLIERS WORK IN TANDEM.

North American business has been dominated by large companies in the past, but small businesses are now the fastest growing segment of the economy. Recent federal figures suggest that small companies accounted for about two-thirds of net new jobs created from 1982 to 1988.

In fact, according to Small Business Administration figures, more than 99 percent of U.S. companies have fewer than 500 employees, and nearly half the workers in the country work for small businesses. A recent Business Week article reports that "less than 20 percent of the workforce (today) is employed by a U.S.-based global company, down from 25 percent in 1982."

As a belt-tightening economy continues to demand downsizing, delayering, and restructuring, more and more Fortune 500 company employees are being laid off in the transition and finding new homes in smaller companies.

North American businesses of all sizes are moving away from a hierarchical management approach to increasingly progressive levels of employee involvement--often in team settings. To adapt to the challenges of today's flatter organization, and to meet competition head-on, companies need trained, skilled employees, from line workers to top managers. They need employees who can have technical competence as well as sophisticated leadership and teamwork skills.

Increasing marketplace competition requires new solutions, greater efficiency, more finely tuned skills, and better training. Yet few small companies are providing the training required for the future. In fact, they are finding that they cannot afford to buy or develop high-quality training-not by themselves.

How can business meet the changing needs of today's business marketplace and economy? Many smaller companies can benefit from the emergence of productive partnerships between business and education to meet their growing training needs.

An expanded role for educators

The National Governors' Association Report, "Excellence at Work: A State Action Agenda," recognizes that training is essential for smaller businesses. It states that "long-term solutions to the competitive challenges confronting the nation can be achieved only by making fundamental changes in the thinking and behavior of organizations." The report calls on state governments to forge private and public partnerships to help smaller companies obtain training.

Here is where post-secondary education steps in. Educational institutions--such as state vocational/technical schools, community colleges, universities, and public school systems--are forging partnerships with small and midsize businesses as well as with divisional offices and plants of large companies, in order to meet the training needs.

"The bricks and mortar are largely in place for a superb national vocational training network," reports Fortune magazine. "Almost unnoticed, America's community colleges--which enroll roughly 5 million people--have been transforming themselves into training academies."

Understandably, business/education partnerships require considerable flexibility on the part of education, because the various businesses and industries they serve have different training needs. In fact, it sometimes seems that there are as many ways to form a business/education partnership as there are partnerships themselves.

One reason why business/education alliances are so appealing is that most educational institutions find the task of developing training programs for business both costly and time-consuming. Many prefer licensing training from training suppliers.

The rationale is simple: Why reinvent the wheel, wasting time and precious taxpayer dollars, when high-quality training firms have already invested millions of dollars in designing and testing skills training to ensure it meets companies' needs? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.