Emphasis now on training linked to clients' professions
Today's in-company training schemes - unlike the original broad-based Master of Business Administration - are tailored to a client's needs so that a graduate is given education aimed specifically at his or her particular profession.
A MANAGEMENT training qualification, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA), used to be viewed primarily as an elite academic prize.
Today, however, management training is better known as a developmental strategy commonly employed in business.
This shift in focus is best illustrated by the growth of ''in-company schemes''.
Although not new, they are increasingly coming to represent the modern definition of management training.
The essential distinction is plain. The traditional MBA course was open to everyone, ran at set times, at the dictate of the academic calendar, and provided a valuable additional qualification for ambitious high-flyers.
The primary benefit was that it brought together individuals from diverse backgrounds, enabling them to learn as much from each other as from the teaching staff. The main drawback was that each student was left to sift out the material most relevant to his or her own operation.
From the employer's perspective, a candidate holding such a degree could be expected to have a breadth of knowledge, and possibly experience, in the general concepts of the business world.
However, the in-company scheme answers the employer's natural question - ''exactly what am I going to get, and when am I going to get it?'' This modern brand of training is tailored to the client's needs.
In collaboration with an academic institution, an international banking house, for example, could develop a course that would provide highly specific teaching directly relevant to its needs.
Financial matters would receive additional emphasis, at the expense, perhaps, of a case study of a manufacturer in Shenzhen.
The reversal of focus - from the individual student to the individual client - reflects the increasing specialisation of modern business.
The price paid for the narrow focus is the potential loss of the wider context. The Shenzhen manufacturer might become a valued client five years down the line.
Naturally, the best of the in-company schemes seek to maintain an appropriate balance between the narrow and the wide perspectives.
The growth of such schemes is said by some critics of business schools to indicate a frustration at the existing academically based options open to MBA students.
Others consider the phenomenon to be merely an organic evolution of the whole MBA concept.
A logical extension of the in-company scheme is for nationwide and multi-national businesses to establish their own centres of excellence, within the company.
A case in point is Motorola, which runs its own management training school, staffed by leading academics picked from some of the finest universities.
Clearly, this type of educational institution cannot award MBA degrees, but the company knows its key personnel will be receiving up-to-date tuition from acknowledged experts.
The absence of an additional qualification is more than compensated by the benefits to both employer and employee.