Monday, July 13, 2015

Corporate Talent Wars, The Future of Higher Education and the Corporate University Strategies

In a time when human capital is more important than ever and can determine a company’s competitive advantage, or an educational institutions future, we are living in a time of a talent war.  Investments in this ever shrinking resource are critical.  In the McKinsey report on What happens next?  Crucible #2:   The productivity imperative is about maximizing returns from people who think for a living.  Being able to “capture the right talent” and “increase the pace of talent development” are instrumental in the future success of multinational organizations.  One way to approach this challenge is the creation and exploration of Corporate Universities. 

Universities are battling a 57% failure rate of students looking to complete undergraduate degrees.  Consequently, universities are offering more flexible measures of accomplishment and completion, as is highlighted in The Future of Higher Education.   Steven Mintz describes some of the new pathways young people can acquire a bachelors degree: 1) high school student’s college credit 2) Advanced Placement courses 3) three-year bachelor’s degree programs 4) various delivery methods: online, face-to-face, hybrid.  Others methods could also include earning badges or certificates for particular subjects, and work experience counting credits.  However, the increasing high cost of a college education and the time investment to complete a degree continue to directly compete with companies looking for young talent eager to get started in the workplace.

One strategic approach Mintz features is through corporate universities. With over 4,200 corporate universities already  in the workforce, companies like GM, Disney, Charles Schwab, Oracle and others are using education to attract human capital.  Corporate universities help organizations achieve their goals by conducting activities that foster learning and knowledge.  Although, Stephen also highlights issues with this model like gaps in learning, and preparedness for the workforce, I believe this solution can help bridge a partnership between educational institutions and corporations.

If we refer to Competitor Analysis: Understand your Opponents, we see the importance of truly knowing our competition by considering the strategy of your competitor and comparing the objectives of your opponent.  If we do that here, we see universities competing for young talent to educate, mentor, provide learning opportunities both locally and globally, in an effort to build communities, do research, and provide technical and strategic solutions. Many of these institutions strive to make a profit or cover costs through tuition and fees.  Much like higher education, companies have similar objectives although striving to provide shareholders a high return on their investments.  Both groups have a common struggle by competing for human capital, globalization for survival, and maintaining expenses or turning a profit.

In this dilemma, we must also take a careful look at the population and changing workforce landscape.  Generation Z or the next great generation is looking for greater flexibility and freedom in achieving success.  With the world at their fingertips through technology, many young folks are challenging the traditional approach to education and instead embarking on self-study immersion in the things they are most passionate.  Companies and universities can capitalize on this view and their strengths and come together in a partnership strategy.  This approach could bring these groups together in learning and working environments to tame the war to obtain and retain talent.

Inside Higher Education The Future of Higher Education, September 30, 2014 Steven Mintz
Competitor Analysis:  Understand Your Opponents

What Happens next?  Five crucibles of innovation that will shape the coming decade

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