Many colleges and universities have difficulty successfully implementing a business model that allows them to be competitive in the corporate training market. There are many inhibiting reasons for their lack of success; things like state laws, local political requirements, college policies, and the list goes on. In my recent blog post, 5 Success Factors for Community College Corporate Training , I identified what I believe leaders of corporate training divisions must do to be successful in the corporate training market.
But let’s be clear, if Corporate Training functions are going to be successful in delivering training services to business and industry, they need to look, feel and perform like a business - as opposed to a traditional academic institution.
What’s the best way to do that? I propose colleges look to a radically different model where they spin-off their Corporate Training function as a separate organization. This means creating a wholly owned subsidiary of the college, and put it in the position to operate as a for-profit business. They need to give the unit the autonomy to make decisions for the betterment of the business, and separate it from the bureaucracy and politics that is inherent in most educational institutions. I believe this would enable the Corporate Training function to have complete flexibility to meet client expectations.
One of the most important things I’ve learned in my 25 plus years in the education and training industry is that Community Colleges have a great potential to help businesses deliver training cost effectively. They have access to curriculum, technology and resources. Colleges by their very foundation have education and adult learning at their core. They are a great community asset, resource and value for business and industry to leverage to their advantage. Imagine an educational organization that has all these attributes and has the operational structure of a business to meet client expectations. This model could revolutionize the training industry.
I thought for many years that this model could be a solution, but I was not aware that it had recently been implemented successfully. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Don Baxter, President and CEO of Mohawk College Enterprise Corporation (MCEC) in Ontario, Canada. MCEC was established by Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology as a Business-2-Business Corporation. MCEC is a separate corporate entity, supported by the College, and bridges the College to the private sector through the delivery of training services, enhanced partnerships and management of training facilities.
Why did they do it? Similar to many colleges Mohawk is looking for a new revenue streams. Their goal is to use this new revenue to fund innovative start-up programs for the mother institution. Good news is that their strategy may pay off sooner than expected. Projections are they will show a profit in their very first year.
Don is very optimistic that this new model will work. They had to work through many start-up issues, one of which was to arrange agreements between the business and many of the departments at Mohawk College. These agreements permit them to leverage capabilities of the college staff and re-sell them to their external clients.
Time will tell if this is a trend that other colleges will follow. I know I’ll be watching and learning from their success in the next few years. If successful, I believe this model could radically change how colleges position themselves for the next generation of learning services - and how the corporate training market views community colleges as a part of the supply chain of learning services.
Please let me know your thoughts. Feel free to post your comments to this blog or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org;
or you can visit my website at www.seidelconsulting.net.