Unit aims to upgrade skills of employees

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 March, 2008, 12:00am

More companies are providing corporate training for their employees. To meet this demand the Management and Executive Development Centre (MEDC) at Polytechnic University (PolyU) has developed a corporate training unit that provides customised programmes tailored to a company's needs.

The programmes are not confined to mid-level employees. 'Corporate training can target any level in a company, it simply depends on the type of company and its proposed objectives,' said Sidney Wong Sik-yiu, associate director (MEDC) of the Institute for Enterprise, established by PolyU.

He said that while government departments targeted mid-level staff, most small- and medium-sized enterprises usually offered these programmes to senior-level heads and managers.

While middle-management employees are educated on outsourcing management, financial management (for non-accountants) and customer satisfaction issues, chief executives learn about new management techniques, technology mapping and value migration - a concept used when a company moves from one area to another.

The length of training also varied accordingly, although Mr Wong said that one-day training sessions were rare. 'Training generally spans a few days,' he said.

'Depending on the type of training provided, it can last anywhere from two to five days.'

PolyU's corporate training unit runs about 300 training courses a year, and the process of preparing such a course is an intricate and thorough one, with careful measures taken to ensure that the company's objectives are met.

Mr Wong said that companies generally focused on updating their employees' skills in a certain area, developing management tools that applied to business plans or fostering a mindset change within the company.

Other examples include instances when establishments are looking to transfer staff to other regions, during which they might seek training in a change-management course, while an 'option education' course is aimed at informing employees of their alternatives when their company undergoes a change in protocol, such as converting cash bonuses to other incentives.

'It is not uncommon for companies to seek our help in developing a set of objectives,' Mr Wong said, adding that in these cases, the corporate training units could help map the training process for them. To achieve this, the unit must collect information from the companies, including anything from who the targeted trainees are and the average number of years they have been working for the company, and the ratio of secondary school graduates to university graduates.

Once the information has been gathered and the training proposal confirmed by the company, the courses can then start, but the process does not stop there.

'The instructors receive informal feedback from students throughout the training and there is a formal questionnaire to be filled out by the participants at the end of the course,' Mr Wong said.

'The questionnaire includes queries on whether the purpose of training has been achieved and if the training provided was adequate in meeting the participants' needs,' he said.

These comments are listed in the post-training evaluation report, which also contains the instructor's evaluation on whether the proposal guidelines have been met and if any area of training needs to be improved. The report is then submitted to the company for its reference.

Mr Wong said instructors in charge of the training were a combination of in-house and external experts. 'Many of our instructors are PolyU faculty members who are experts on certain topics, but we also look to external industry professionals to fill the instructor positions, provided that they are well qualified.'

The public certified financial planner (CFP) course, for example, helps individuals prepare for their public examination. External professionals instructing this course must possess the relevant qualifications and hold a CFP certification.