“Bring us a pitcher of beer every seven minutes until somebody passes out. And then bring one every ten minutes.”
- Rodney Dangerfield, “Back to School”
Surely you remember your college days: The networking (parties), building relationships (parties), informal learning (reading at parties) and continuous development (parties). It’s a good time, an important time in the development of adults … it’s what Stephen King called “the massive last gasp of childhood.”
But I’m not writing about nostalgia. I’m just wondering if college is something that has to end. We as an industry are tasked with the ongoing development of adults, a fact which begs a question: Can the serious education we relied on in college still be a tool for adults way past the traditional campus age?
Of course … you already know that. But you may not be doing anything about it.
This week, Destiny Solutions, a provider of lifelong learning business solutions, released results of a research project commissioned to bring attention to the potential of corporate partnerships with higher education. It’s already happening, but the numbers show it’s not happening that much.
Check out these numbers from the study of 200 North American employers:
- 70% of employers felt their workers need continuous learning to keep pace with their professions.
- Only 2% of employers said they were completely removed from staff education and training.
- 95% of employers have systems in place to support continuous education for the workforce.
- Some companies are offering up to $15,000 in individual education benefits.
Excellent so far. But it goes south quickly:
- Only 9% of employees have a training partnership with a college or university.
- Only 16% of employers feel there’s an adequate availability of college programs that are tailored to their needs.
- Only 20% of employers rated their workforce training programs as “very successful” in terms of accelerating performance.
OK, you don’t need an MBA to crunch those numbers. Companies are investing in workforce development and they see the value in collegiate partnerships, but the availability isn’t where they’d like it to be.
So whether you’re affiliated with an enterprise or an academic institution, the numbers all add up to opportunity.
“Given the budget crises higher education is currently experiencing, capitalizing on this market could provide an invaluable revenue source for many colleges and universities,” said Destiny Solutions CEO Shaul Kuper.
It’s certainly hard to argue with that logic. The situation also works nicely for the business, which can build partnerships that can only strengthen the workplace, foster more loyalty among workers and produce a marketable culture of continuous learning that will keep the talent pipeline flowing indefinitely.
And the benefit to the individual learner? Immense but incalculable … I haven’t yet seen anyone attach ROI projections to the value of lifelong potential.
So why would a win-win-win situation like this be underutilized by all parties? Workers know that college-level training can’t really hurt, even if a time investment is required. Businesses know that rising tide lifts all boats, even if one occasionally sails to a different dock. And colleges know that a new supply of students enhances both the bottom line and reputation of a school, even if job training has traditionally been the purview of the HR department.
It’s a minor mystery, but the solution is slowly presenting itself: Awareness of an issue is always the first step in addressing and correcting it.
For the learning leaders out there, making a connection with your local venues of higher learning (including community colleges) can never be a bad idea. Even starting small, with pilot programs or trial-balloon class offerings, represents a large step in the right direction.
Remember this anonymous, and humorous, quote: “College is like a fountain of knowledge – and the students are there to drink.”