Intelligence Report: 5-Year Forecast

If the future of business is all about learning, then what is the future of business learning? Jeanne C. Meister, author of Corporate Quality Universities: Lessons in Building a World-Class Work Force, doesn’t envision many recycled lectures, standardized curricula, or even classrooms. In just five years, says Meister, schools that are on the fast track to the future will look like this:

1. Corporate universities earn the “U” in their names by granting degrees comparable to traditional undergraduate and graduate awards. They open their doors to students beyond their employee pool. And instead of a useless certificate, they provide a transcript of each student’s newly gained skills, knowledge, and experiences that functions as a document of employability.

2. Training departments give way to smaller, strategically integrated units with a direct link to the chairman. The CEO assumes the duties of “chief learning officer,” including spending significant time building educational partnerships, facilitating learning, and telling corporate stories.

3. A fast, flexible, and modular design replaces the Master Curriculum. Education is broken down into “molecular-sized bits” and delivered in “short bursts of information” customized to the business situation.

4. Business students choose from a full menu of learning solutions in multiple formats: on-campus instruction; distance learning though satellite; video and Intranet technologies; dispersed training for teams and work groups; conferences; and just-in-time desktop performance support tools like interactive CD-ROM. Today only 20% of all education and training uses those applications; in five years, expect that number to grow to 50%.

5. Corporate learning centers turn a profit; training staffs become professional service firms. Educational offerings will include learning interventions, competence training, performance support technologies, and conferences. Employees take responsibility for as much as 50% of training on their own time.

Contact Jeanne Meister by email at (