ERIC Identifier: ED301142
Publication Date: 1988-00-00
Author: Nash, Nancy S. - Hawthorne, Elizabeth M.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education Washington DC.
Corporate Education. ERIC Digest.
This report discusses the extensive education and training programs
established and run by corporations and other organizations, largely
profitmaking enterprises whose primary purpose is something other than
education, in the context of traditional higher education. As used in this
report, "corporate education" is education offered by a business or industry for
its own employees.
HOW EXTENSIVE IS CORPORATE EDUCATION?
is an extensive, multifaceted endeavor, costing billions of dollars, educating
millions of people, and absorbing many working hours annually.
It is estimated, for example, that approximately $30 billion to $50 billion
is spent on formal employee education and $180 billion on informal, on-the-job,
education. Employees in companies with 500 or more employees--4.4 million
people--can expect to receive frequent instruction paid for and provided by
IS CORPORATE EDUCATION A THREAT TO HIGHER EDUCATION?
colleges and universities strive to respond to the needs of nontraditional
students, they often find that corporate educators have preceded them.
Corporations, with the assistance of the American Council on Education and the
New York Board of Regents, have had their courses evaluated, frequently leading
to the granting of credit for corporate coursework by colleges and universities.
Courses offered by corporations range from remedial to postgraduate level
management and technical courses. Corporations have even founded their own
colleges, known as "corporate colleges." These educational efforts potentially
could threaten the health, and devalue the worth of, higher education, but in
fact, corporate education is compatible with--indeed complements--traditional
higher education. Higher education in the United States has been responsive to
the needs of the workplace since the beginning of the federal period. The
prevailing dialogue in higher education has long been the weighing of
tradeoffs--practically and philosophically--between general education and what
now is called "career education." The formal recognition of instruction
independent of the providers is a multifaceted and complex enterprise on the
postsecondary education scene in and of itself. These efforts have accomplished
two things. First, the structural conformity of noncollegiate instruction with
collegiate instruction (for example, associating credit hours with contact
hours) facilitates transfers and students' mobility and opens up an array of
potential cooperative efforts between businesses and colleges. Second, they have
served as a major channel of communication between school and corporation about
educational content and methods. This report presents the interaction between
corporate education and these recognition processes, a path by which
noncollegiate education can wend its way into the most traditional patterns of
higher education. Innovations find their way into higher education in five ways,
one of which is when external institutions appear on the scene to challenge,
titillate, and/or draw attention to significant issues.
The emergence of corporate education with its interest in formal recognition
offers opportunities and challenges to higher education in the way it teaches,
the students it seeks, and the perception of the purposes of education. The
growth of corporate education is a stimulus to both internal collegiate debates
and public policy decision making.
WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED FROM THE PROLIFERATION OF CORPORATE
Many profitable educational ventures have been initiated that
were provoked by employers' recognition of their responsibility for developing
their employees. The American University, for example, using its own faculty,
offers an MS in toxicology at Litton Industries, and the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology cooperates in an education program with IBM and Digital Equipment.
An indirect benefit to colleges resulting from an increased awareness of
conditions in higher education on the part of business and industry has been the
use of modern technology by colleges and universities to educates future
employees. And a national discussion on the role of colleges and universities in
American society has been stimulated by heightened awareness of shared national
Corporate education is well established, a large enterprise, and increasingly
more professional. The factors that led employers to begin to educate and train
their employees continue to affect their choices as technology changes, as
businesses create proprietary information to share with their employees, and as
employees need to learn new skills or enhance current skills to make a
contribution to the workplace. If traditional collegiate institutions and
associations ignore or discount corporate education, they will do so at their
own peril. There is room for accommodation and cooperation that will serve
learners and their providers as well.
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Carnevale, Anthony P. 1986. "The Learning Enterprise." Training and
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Carnevale, Anthony P., and Goldstein, Harold. 1983. Employee Training: Its
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Eurich, Nell P. 1985. Corporate Classrooms: The Learning Business. Carnegie
Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Lawrenceville, N.J.: Princeton
University Press. Hawthorne, Elizabeth M.; Libby, Patricia A.; and Nash, Nancy
S. 1983. "The Emergence of Corporate Colleges." Journal of Continuing Higher
Lusterman, Seymour. 1977. Education in Industry. New York: Conference Board.
Lustermand, Seymour. 1985. Trends in Corporate Education. Report #870. New York:
Lynton, Ernest A. 1984. The Missing Connection between Business and the
Universities. New York: American Council on Education/Macmillan.
Morse, Suzanne. 1984. Employee Educational Programs: Implications for
Industry and Higher Education. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 7.
Washington, D.C.; Association for the Study of Higher Education. ED 258 501.
NOTE: This ERIC Digest is a summary of Formal Recognition of
Employer-Sponsored Instruction: Conflict and Collegiality in Postsecondary
Education by the same authors (ERIC ED 286 437).