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Getting down to business.

Indiana University collaborates with leading service companies to design a major new educational product.

The poor state of American education, and consequently the American work force, is a popular target of criticism these days. Indiana, graduating barely three-fourths of its high-school seniors, doesn't escape the line of fire.

But where does educational reform begin? Certainly changes must be integrated into primary and secondary education. But what can Indiana do in the meantime--before those students enter the work force--to remain competitive in a rapidly changing economic environment, characterized by educational and technological one-upmanship?

"As people in business we have to be concerned" about education problems in the work force, says Phil Junker, district human resources manager for Indiana Bell. It's not just a matter of exorbitant welfare costs and the resulting taxes. The grim reality that 25 percent of the work force is nonproductive is frightening. "Either we step up to it and find a way to do it and pay for it now, or we're going to pay later."

Indiana University is collaborating with some of Indiana's leading service companies, hoping to design a program for the educational improvement of today's work force. Last April, IU President Thomas Ehrlich announced aspirations for a revolutionary, specialized business-training curriculum. He called it "nothing less than a major new educational product--one that cannot be assembled using off-the-shelf components drawn from existing programs."

Indiana Bell, The Associated Group, INB National Bank, PSI Energy and IU Hospitals are the participants. Though a formal, structured program has not yet been developed, plans are under way. There are many hopes and aspirations.

The impetus for a specialized business-training curriculum arose out of the participants' mutual concern for the future of Indiana's economy. Historically, the state's economy has been manufacturing-based, and it still is, predominantly. The service sector has been somewhat overlooked by educators.

Now, the service economy is growing rapidly, while the manufacturing sector's growth has leveled off. The concern is that Indiana's work force, particularly the service industry, is not educated properly to compete in a changing environment.

"The problems facing Indiana are acute, and the interests of business and education are closely congruent. The time is now, it seems to me, for us to declare formally that we will work together," Ehrlich says.

While Indiana becomes increasingly service-oriented, "the educational system is still attuned to turning out good factory workers," says Dan Kendall, vice president and human resources officer for the Associated Group. Students are taught to be in their seats by the bell, to maintain a good attendance record and not to ask too many questions.

"The educational machine is a large one and very difficult to guide, let alone turn around," says Kendall. "But we need to learn to survive, adapt and learn new skills. We can't, as yet, teach those things."

The economic environment of the future, even of today, demand flexibility. "We're doing things today we never would have considered four to five years ago," says Danny Littell, vice president of administration for PSI Energy. Braille billing statements are sent to PSI's vision-impaired customers. It has telephones with amplifiers on the receivers for its hearing-impaired customers. It supports a home watch program for elderly consumers. Meter readers report any unusual activity, or a lack of activity.

"Even in a heavily regulated industry like ours, we have to be competitive and as customer-service-oriented as anyone could hope to be. That's what we're all about now. Our goal is to get everyone else on that bandwagon," says Littell.

The goal of all the collaborators is to devise training packages that will teach workers necessary skills and technical competencies, while at the same time teaching them to be adaptive to new strategies. It is hoped that these programs will enable the involved companies to make necessary transformations to remain competitive in the future.

Some classes would be very practical; for example, teaching employees to read annual reports and decipher financial statements, rather than teaching them strict accounting methods. Other classes might be more philosophical in nature. One might envision a class where new management styles specific to the service economy are outlined.

The idea is to customize education to an industry, currently the service industry, but to make programs flexible enough that companies as different as PSI Energy and INB National Bank both can utilize them.

Indiana University is working first on a smaller scale with only the five companies in the hope that the program will be a prototype for educational training curriculums in many, if not all, industries.

The uniqueness of IU's education proposal lies in the relationship between the service companies and the university. The university's relationship to the participants is much like a supplier's relationship to its customers.

Companies will go to IU for educational help. In turn, IU will design programs specifically for their needs. The result will be the most focused, highest-quality training possible, according to participants.

Bob Zimsky, consultant for the IU program, is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and director of the Institute for Research on Higher Education. He says there is no other program like this in the nation. His institute is interested in the IU proposal because it's a cutting-edge kind of experiment.

Zimsky cites the problem with current training programs. "Firms don't know how to focus their money to benefit their employees," he says. Zimsky believes that if firms establish a preferred-supplier relationship with educators, then they can focus and integrate their investments and ultimately increase their productivity.

Zimsky sees the emphasis on focused skills and training--ranging from literacy to statistical process control--as promising. "Each job is made up of skill bundles and all are different," he says. Intensive experience is necessary to achieve optimum productivity.

After Ehrlich's initial announcement in April, IU began the first of several phases of program development. First, it was necessary for IU to assess the educational needs of the participating companies. A focus group, a five-person team composed of IU School of Business faculty, was selected to identify employees' current skills, education and attitudes by interviewing human resources personnel and cross sections of employees.

Second, the focus group collected the input of upper management to define the new skills and attitudes needed to remain competitive in their industries.

The first phase has reached completion and awaits the compilation of results. The next step is for IU to make recommendations for a course design, which the collaborators can accept, reject or reform.

The agreement between IU and its educational customers allows a company to withdraw at the end of each phase of program development, if it considers recommendations infeasible. All remain committed to the programs's success, however, and currently, each company is providing equal support for its development.

After the courses are established, the plan for actual product delivery will begin. Although the mode of delivery is not yet definite, it is perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the project. Classes might be taught electronically.

There is new and currently untapped potential in instructional technology through remote learning. Electronic instruction would make education more accessible to a greater number of employees. If implemented, the electronic instruction could take place at each work site, eliminating the need to leave to go to class. As well, it may eliminate the need for night classes.

The tentative goal is to have the program accredited. At the least, certificates of completion will be issued to program graduates. In any case, wide recognition both in and out of state would be essential to the program's success. Electronic instruction would make that possible. Many person in various locations could graduate with the exact same training and education.

Since the program is in its infancy, it is difficult to foresee exactly what issues it will stir up. Potential problems loom, particularly where company culture is concerned. What constitutes success in the program? What does the success or failure of an employee mean to the employer? What are the ramifications of failure?

"Many training programs fail because the culture and environment is perverse," says Thomas Lentz, dean of IU's School of Business. This poses a particular challenge to human resource departments that must address these situations within the context of their own organizations. Companies will have to have a systematic human-resource plan.

It's necessary for a company to make clear its desired culture, or shared set of beliefs. These include beliefs about anything from the relationship between individuals and the organization to beliefs about the kinds of clothes they wear and the language they use. Ideally, companies already will have established their culture and an employee will have aspired to it by accepting the job.

Another potential problem lies in creating incentive for employees to participate. It's likely that reimbursement will play a prominent role in the incentive program, but it is hoped that employees will be excited by subtler incentives as well, such as the opportunity to build skills in areas of competence.

And as Indiana Bell's Junker points out, "One size doesn't fit all. Management often do not have a formal education. On the other hand, we have an increasing number of MBAs. We can't realistically have the same curriculum for everyone." It seems that different levels of instruction will be necessary.

David Handel, director of IU hospitals, certainly would agree. "The key will be the type of training IU develops," says Handel. He sees focused training, perhaps three- to four-day intensive sessions, as necessary in his field. "Yet at the same time, we need generic types of training," he adds. Management, communications, specific knowledge areas and total quality management training are all necessary.

Littell of PSI Energy sees the program as "having an umbrella of sameness and then some individuality too, depending on the training mechanism."

Despite the possible glitches in the proposed program, all company representatives are very enthusiastic about its potential, if developed properly. "We have a strong record as an institution and as individuals with the institution for being interested in and taking part in community service," says Jean Smith, first vice president of public relations for INB National Bank. This is just one more opportunity, she says, in which the company is happy to participate.

Continuing Education for Business

Following is a sampling of some of the seminars and workshops regularly offered in Indiana, along with contact names. The courses listed may represent only a portion of the institutions' offerings. This does not purport to be a complete listing.

Ball State University, Muncie

* Certified Training Consultant Institute, 10 weeks, on or off campus

* Customized seminars on general or specific business topics, campus or on-site

Delaina Muenster 800/541-9313

Earlham College, Richmond

* Programs for middle- and upper-level managers

* Institute for Executive Growth, Performance Appraisal and Career Development, Management and Labor Relations, and Strategic Planning and the Marketing Process

* Basic supervisory program each spring and fall

* In-plant training programs within a 200-mile radius of campus

Dr. James A. Beier 317/983-1244

Franklin College of Indiana

* Periodic free lecturers on general business-related topics

John Stevens 317/738-8219

Goshen College

* Management development programs

* Small-business management, family businesses, CPA reviews

* Will devise classes for corporations

Leonard Geiser 219/535-7150

Grace College, Winona Lake

* One-time programs, two or three per semester, usually free

* Tax updates, international business, general management principles

* Business may suggest needed topics

William P. Gordon 219/372-5211

Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indianapolis

* Human resources, occupational safety and health, health-care conference

Becky Cerda 317/264-3118

* How to Be an Effective Speaker, Cold-Sell Seminar Series

Jolanda Chesonis 317/264-6875

Indiana Labor & Management Council Inc., Indianapolis

* Introduction to self-managing work teams, total quality management, application of industrial ergonomics

Bob Firenze 317/293-4101

Indiana University, Bloomington

* Indiana Business Seminars, 12-15 per year (meet in Indianapolis, but not connected with IUPUI)

* Legal Issues in Employee Relations, Managing a Diverse Work Force, Effective Presentation Skills, Becoming an Effective Manager

* Customized on-site presentations for individual businesses

Catherine Foster 812/855-0229

Indiana University East, Richmond

* Non-credit classes through the continuing education department

* Professional Development Series, support staff series, hands-on discrimination, winning financial strategies, motivation, effective business writing, accounting for non-accountants.

Lois Martin 317/973-8238

Indiana University, New Albany

* Writing and computer science

* Customized training for business and industry

Gary Hines 812/941-2315

Indiana University Northwest, Gary

* Center for Management Development training programs for local businesses

Dean Marilyn Vasquez 219/980-6630

* Communication skills, management and decision making, customer service, effective business writing, strategic hiring, newsletter composition

Bob Lovely 219/980-6828

Indiana University, South Bend

* Management and computer courses, production and inventory control, accounting

Carolyn Fermoyle 219/237-4261

Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis

* Using Positive Reinforcement in Managing and Training, International Order Processing and Financing for Your Business

* Certificate programs in employee benefits and financial planning

Irv Levy 317/274-4501

IUPUI--Columbus

* Affiliated with the American Management Certification program, small business and computer courses

Sheri Read 812/372-8266

Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne

* Supervisory and leadership, improving business and personal skills, engineering and technical classes

Wade Fredrick 219/481-6619

Indiana University-Purdue University, Kokomo

* Paralegal, real estate certification, professional secretary review, CPA review, law preparation, computer courses, business conferences, American Management Association courses

James McFaul 317/455-9408

Indiana Vocational Technical College (Ivy Tech), Indianapolis

* Twenty-one presentations a year, always on campus

* Japanese Management Techniques, Women in Management, Performance Appraisal

Techniques and Decision-Making Skills

Deanna Timmons 317/921-4912

Seminars also available at many other Ivy Tech campuses around the state

Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion

* Leadership development series twice a year (Indianapolis sites)

* Corporate workshop series--customized programs at businesses around state

* Technology and change, human relations issues

Dr. David Spittal 317/677-2350

Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce

*Personnel policies and procedures for managers, marketing, time management and quality control, small-business dialogues, minority-entrepreneur programs

Daniel Fenton 317/464-2225

Purdue University, West Lafayette

* Short courses and programs in cooperation with associations and companies

* Annual Engineering/Management Program for engineers, scientists and those who manage them

Michael Hope 317/494-7700

Purdue University Calumet, Hammond

* Small-Business Management, Fundamentals of Supervisory Management

Wes Lukoshus 219/989-2217

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

* Long-term certification program in microcomputers (students come to campus at beginning and end of program, but complete work in home area)

Sister Joanne Golding 812/535-5146

* Continuing education program

Catherine Rodifer 812/535-5149

Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame

* Tax and Accounting Update with the latest information for professionals in tax preparation, tax/financial planning and accounting

Claude D. Renshaw 219/284-4750

Small Business Administration

* Workshops and seminars throughout the state (including Bloomington, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Richmond, New Albany, Columbus, Valparaiso and Spencer)

* Small-Business Record Keeping and Taxes, Employee Management and Motivation, International Order Processing, and Finding and Developing New Markets

* Some programs are free.

Call local Small Business Development Centers or 317/226-7272 for a list of statewide offerings.

Tri-State University, Angola

* Business and industry workshops

* Newsletters, Effective Business Writing, Better Meetings, Enhancing Customer Loyalty, Passport to Power

Verna Curry Boyer 219/665-4127

University of Evansville

* Campus and on-site programs

* Sales training, behavioral assessments, work-force literacy, improving personal skills and relationships, interpreting corporate missions, traditional management skills

Elaine Hopkins 812/479-2478

University of Indianapolis

* Workshops on how to start and run a small business

* Supervisory Institute

* Leaders on Leadership series with nationally known business people and authors

* Customized on-campus programs for companies

Kenneth C. Partridge 317/788-3273

University of Notre Dame

* Executive programs, usually on campus

* Seminars can be arranged for individual companies

Todd Bemenderfer 219/239-5285

University of Southern Indiana, Evansville

* Extended programs department

* Courses for certificate of management, a management program, front-line leadership, business and professional development, computers and information management.

Julie Schank 812/464-1863

Valparaiso University

* Brochure available

James W. Albers 219/464-5313

Vincennes University

* Seminars and workshops for general business community

* Marketing, wills and trusts, communication skills

* Presentations on campus or at companies

* Specializes in helping nine-county area around Vincennes, but will travel throughout state

Karen Sutton 812/885-4120
COPYRIGHT 1991 Curtis Magazine Group, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes directory of business seminars and workshops; Indiana University works with Indiana Bell, The Associated Group, INB National Bank, PSI Energy and IU Hospitals to improve the quality of education and the work force
Author:Baughman, Nena
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Words:2639
Previous Article:Is competition working?
Next Article:From pigeons to partnerships.
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