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The nuts and bolts of corporate learning programs

Kathy Eneguess (left) of White Mountains Community College and ​Marie Foster Gnage of West Virginia University at Parkersburg with Hillary Clinton, who was the keynote speaker at Learning 2013.​​​

In the changing world of corporate training, companies and colleges do not always speak the same language. Sometimes corporate and college learning leaders need a liaison to help them think of learning in ways to support each other.

That's a role the Masie Center filled this week through Learning 2013 in Orlando, Fla. The annual conference brought together corporate chief learning officers to exchange ideas, resources and strategies.

This year, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a team of nine community college leaders was invited to see and hear about dynamic training programs at companies such as Accenture,NBC, GE, Yum Brands and Wal-Mart and to determine how two-year institutions can help them.

Kenneth Ender, president of Harper College (Illinois) and a member of the board of directors of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)—which coordinated the invitation—said the conference offered great insight into corporate education and training, especially pertaining to efforts to measure outcomes. He said next year he plans to send staff from continuing education and training to the meeting.

Role reversal

For Marie Foster Gnage, president of West Virginia University at Parkersburg and immediate past chair of the AACC board, a conversation regarding how corporate training and community college workforce development programs could better serve each other was enlightening. The participants switched roles and asked how their institution could help the other one, which Gnage noted was an interesting exercise.

The college leaders learned about corporate training programs that include GED preparation and English as a second language classes, said Gnage, who added that two-year colleges could supplement some of the continuing education efforts and even offer professional development for instructors.

“Community colleges don’t have to do it all. They can link into these programs and help employees build on what they’ve learned,” similar to stackable credentials, Gnage said.

In addition to Gnage and Ender, the community college representatives included: