NEXT: The New Corporate University

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The Economist reports that “American companies spent $ 91 billion on training their staff last year, almost a third of what they did in 2016… This change is very encouraging. In general, the supply of on-the-job training has declined.

Perhaps one of the reasons companies avoid training is because they expect new hires to come in with skills and experiences already in place. This puts pressure on colleges and universities to train potential employees. What this means in practice is that it is the students themselves who are responsible for their own education; indeed, they must foot the bill for the development of human capital, which will benefit the companies that hire them. For the most part, many companies are content to outsource training to colleges and universities.

There was also a time when companies had solid Research and Development units. For some companies, this R&D was not just about developing new products; some, like IBM, engaged in original and pure research, on par with the best research universities.

For example, mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot developed the principles of fractal geometry while he was a researcher at IBM. Google has given its employees free time during the work week to work on their own projects, whether or not they are producing marketable products. This style of corporate R&D becomes a source of cutting-edge research and new ideas.

Cutting-edge employee training and research: these are businesses that today’s businesses tend to shy away from. In the future, we may see a revival of training and research within companies, a business that is starting to resemble what is happening at research universities like Ohio State.

I am considering a new corporate university. It will engage in training its employees, but such training would include skills that we would associate with a university degree, such as communication skills, intercultural skills and critical thinking.

In this scenario, the young people start in a business as apprentices. After a prescribed period, they join as a full member of the company. An education at “Honda University” or “JP Morgan Chase University” is a substitute for going to a traditional college or university.

Also, in the new corporate university, the kinds of research that we associate with research universities are done here. Not only do researchers seek to develop new products, but they also engage in pure research that seeks to expand knowledge, even if that knowledge is not marketable.

New corporate universities are looking for talent at traditional higher education institutions and raiding universities for faculty. These professors don’t just come from technical fields; new corporate universities are also looking for talented faculty in the arts and humanities and other fields that explore imagination, creativity and innovation. Like traditional universities, the new corporate university is a talent incubator. The vice-president for training and research is no different from the rector of a research university.

There are of course corporate universities today, which are usually management training initiatives. One famous is Hamburger U, the management training wing of McDonald’s.

A few years ago Hamburger U partnered with Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK to offer a degree (equivalent to an associate’s degree) from Hamburger U. Even if you weren’t Interested in working for the fast food giant, a certification from McDonald’s has the potential to be very valuable in the market.

Imagine if Hamburger U was functioning like a real university. Training in the new corporate university would not only focus on the technical specifics of the business and industry, but would expand to include the types of courses, skills and knowledge we associate with today. at colleges.

I imagine a new unit with a company, its corporate university. It will be very much like a research university like Ohio State in that it will engage its employees in lifelong learning and at the same time produce cutting-edge research, the kind that leads not only to patents but also to publications. peer reviewed. Indeed, researchers at the new corporate university compete with their counterparts at traditional research universities.

David Staley is director of the Humanities Institute and a professor at Ohio State University. He is president of Columbus Futurists and host of CreativeMornings Columbus.

The next CreativeMornings Columbus will take place on Friday, November 16 at 8:30 a.m. at Capital University. Elvis Saldias Villarroel will speak on the theme “Restart”.

The next Columbus Futurists show will be on Thursday, November 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Panera Bread Community Hall (875 Bethel Rd.). We will be playing “The Thing from the Future” scenario creation game.


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