Strengthen Your Enterprise Learning Through Strategic Academic Partnerships

Mary Ellen Caro and  Sylvia G. Hamilton
As corporations are responding to increasing competition and a turbulent global economy, they are recognizing the growing importance of employees as a strategic asset. Corporate reengineering and the impact of globalization drive the challenge of employee recruitment, employee retention and leveraging employee skill sets. Central to employee development challenges is the need for a workforce that has the capacity for continuous learning to meet the changing needs of the global economy. The confluence of external factors such as employee skill deficits, the evolving global economy and emerging technology accelerated the development of partnerships with higher education in the late 20th century and will continue in the foreseeable future.

The pairing of corporations and higher education to satisfy new mutual needs is increasing. Corporations are now viewing collaboration with colleges and universities as a means for employee training and development in addition to enabling employee recruitment and employee retention. Higher education, recognizing the growing segment of working adult students, is eyeing the potential for increased enrollment and associated revenue streams. And the combination of external forces and internal pressures has created a rich opportunity to explore the dynamics of partnerships involving higher education institutions. These dynamics have led to an interesting marketplace of supply and demand of higher education, with associated benefits for both the corporate and educational partner. The partnership with higher education institutions appears to range from preferred education providers that give discounted tuition to employees and their families, to complex partnerships that involve curriculum development and significant partner investment of resources.

Why Partner with Higher Education?

There are several reasons companies would benefit from partnering with higher education institutions such as colleges and universities. This partnership could:
  • Solve an employee training problem. Partnerships are most beneficial when they solve a problem or address a need. Business challenges such as changes in technology, the demand for more skilled employees or succession planning might be addressed through an academic partnership that provides employee training and education required to be successful on the job. Offering employee benefits such as higher education opportunities may provide a competitive advantage in employee recruitment and employee retention efforts.
  • Gain greater access to educational resources. A corporation can complement its employee training and development programs by partnering with a higher education institution. Academic institutions have learning professionals and the academic infrastructure to enhance and add credibility to a corporation’s internal educational programs. Academic institutions can provide resources in areas including curriculum development, evaluation of corporate and employee training programs for academic credit and the development of learning assessment tools that can be used by the corporation. Through an academic partnership, college professors may be available to teach employees at an on-site corporate location, providing employees with easier access to an educational program.
  • Extend reach. Given the global economy and global workforces, corporations need to provide its employees with online access to training and development and education programs. Partnering with a higher education institution that gives online access to learning can insure that a corporation provides all employees with the opportunity to learn and enhance their professional development.
  • Maximize tuition assistance budget. Companies that develop partnerships with higher education are often able to negotiate discounts or special rates with the academic partner—enabling them to get the most for their tuition assistance dollars. Additionally, academic partnerships that require employees to pursue a certificate or degree in specific academic areas may reduce the number of employees participating in the program. The savings in the amount spent on tuition assistance can be used to provide additional benefits to employees or can be seen as a cost-savings opportunity. Strategic partnerships with higher education can provide many benefits to businesses and corporations. Are you ready to partner?

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EVENTS OF INTEREST

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