More Companies Turning to Universities to Educate Workforce, Study Shows

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The partnership of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. with American Public University to provide online college degree programs to Walmart’s U.S. workforce has generated skepticism among some in academia.

The arrangement, however, reflects growing trends in employee development as organizations struggle to remain competitive in a global marketplace and adapt to rapid-fire technological change with several generations of workers on board that have wide disparities in skills, said Jessica Li, a faculty member in the College of Education at the University of Illinois.

Li and Amy Lui Abel, a researcher with Silk Road Learning in New York, recently completed a study in which they examined the operations, functions and structures of 210 corporate universities across North America.

Corporate universities – defined as organizations that instill the parent company’s values, processes and strategic goals in its workforce and may also train clients, suppliers and other external constituents – have doubled in number in the U.S. over the past two decades and now number more than 4,000.

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