Bring the 'Continuity' into Continuing Education...


Raj Nambiar
Programme Director
The International College (THINC)

The term continuing education has been in existence through time & has also seen it being adapted effectively by 'corporatedom' through universities such as Corporate University, Motorola University, Hamburger University etc.

The adaptation in Indian corporate circles, have been through traditional distance learning programmes or skills based training as often seen in the IT/ ITES circles.

While the beeline to recruit stars from campuses, continues unabated, the value-add that these stars bring, is often times negated by the tendency of these stars to keep their eyes open for offers outside of the company that has hunted them from campuses.

The so called stars begin working for a company & are brought in closer to the top than most other personnel who have fought their way for promotions/ credit for work done.

Now the companies while fighting their own battles do not recognize the need to nurture or encourage talent in house so the question remains what does a corporate do with personnel in Sales/Administration/ Accounting/IT/insurance & many other areas personnel who have remained with the company for a long time notching up successes which have brought them promotions/ career advancement albeit at a not so rapid pace.

While the stars have scorched the corporate ramp to Vice President & Directorship, the corporate pariahs who may be the ones without a basic degree (even at times graduation) but have put in their years at making the marriage work; sulk or feel disgruntled.

How does the corporate address the hard working folks who they have taken for granted or have been meted out the step motherly treatment

From almost all the countries surveyed it is the UK which places the maximum value for work experience & how the same could be brought into main stream academe. The Post Graduate degrees in all sort of myriad areas still finds takers but it is the three lettered word that turns most personnel on at the risk of sounding monotonous one must still say that the MBA is still the Most Desired Qualification to most.

The writer had the opportunity to witness an experiment wherein mature candidates were being recruited to the MBA the definition of the mature candidate being one "who is over 25 years of age & may or may not have a Bachelors degree & has more than 5 years of strong industry work experience"

The experiment brought in interest from CEOs; General Managers; Vice Presidents et. al one thing common amongst all the applicants were that they were keen on availing the opportunity to continue their education and yes the MBA degree that came with it only added lustre & value.

Having said that the experiment was a success it still must be maintained that the MBA is not an end in itself. It is a reward for those who still believed in Continuity. The challenge of balancing work pressures, family lives, and social commitments whilst working their way to the MBA must figure highly on the hierarchy of needs.

It still remains to be seen how the mature MBA's would counter the onslaught of the first day hires from premium B schools but something tells me that the mature MBA's will bring in maturity & away from the book management skills drawn from work experience coupled with the three new letters adorning their name.

Its okay to hunt with the rest of the world for the first & second day hires but it is safe to add that it would still make a lot of sense to look inwards not only from the perspective of Succession Plans (the new buzzword of many a tired Chairman & his/her Board of Directors). The inward focus will only help the new age Black Berry wielding HR manager/ Vice President to show old timers they mean well & that the corporate is doing its part in   making the marriage last the travails of time.

The policies set by Universities in the West (especially the UK ) have withstood the tests of time in turning out graduates equipped with various specializations all of which have helped them to advance further within their organizations or helped the head hunters into taking them to the competition at higher niches. Accreditation of Prior Learning/ Work experience should not be considered as only Distance Learning.

Corporate India is already beginning to see a non holds barred 'war for talent' it's about that time, wherein challenges at acquiring & retaining talent are real for almost all organizations. In terms of marketing logic one gets to hear that it's much cheaper to retain new customers than acquiring new ones wont the same logic apply to HR & Talent Retention. Without sounding like the writer is preaching to the choir it needs to be mentioned that the Talent Retention logic would have to be employed almost like a mantra. So while the blue eyed boys come in from the top ranked B Schools the red eyed boys who have burnt the midnight oil would have to be kept happy. Money & more money will do a lot of talking but value addition in the form of Continuing Education in right earnest will help keeping the fold together. It also remains to be seen if the re-discovered learning opportunities helps add to the competitiveness within the organization besides creating a level playing field.

The writer is working on throwing some names in terms of affordable UK Universities & their programmes for mature candidates graduates or otherwise.

So lets put on our "Talking Freely" shoes & talk to Managers/Executives/ Advisors/ Trainers many of whom are feeling neglected lets give them a fair opportunity at getting learning opportunities that could help them punch the day lights of the stars the proverbial first & second day hires.

Raj Nambiar
Programme Director
The International College (THINC)

Source: E-mail October 10, 2006


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