Distance learning: The global view

A leading British training company is expanding it's teaching network around the world, writes Maureen O'Connor
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The Independent Online
THIS month sees the formation of a new training organisation for the corporate market. Pearson Profess- ional has amalgamated two of its subsidiaries - the Open College and Training Direct - to form a single operation under the umbrella of the Open College.

The restructuring will still allow the business to offer two complementary elements: corporate training solutions and training resources. The amalgamation will make the Open College one of the largest providers of corporate training solutions in the UK.

The establishment of the new organisation, with headquarters in Manchester, is being celebrated at the same time as the news that the Open College is all set to provide a new global management programme in over 40 countries for Standard Chartered Bank.

The course has been specially designed to reflect the bank's values of quality, multi-cultural awareness and company focus in the workplace. It is accredited to Nottingham University's Certificate and Diploma in Management Studies, but is designed as a means of developing work-place skills rather than as an academic course. Successful participants will be able to gain direct entry to a number of MBA pro- grammes on completion of the course.

Standard Chartered is particularly keen to develop a management programme which can be used consistently across its international operations in 40 countries. To achieve this, the Open College is setting up a "hubbing" arrangement for tutors and co-ordinators at key sites in Africa, the Far East and the UK.

These will provide the ground support necessary for students on the programme and are expected to "cascade down" as the programme grows. Telephone and mail links will be established with assessment tutors in the UK to help participants set up their own informal networks, as well as obtaining access to ongoing advice and assistance from the college.

The Standard Chartered programme is symptomatic of the finance and banking sector's increasing need for high-quality training programmes, according to Tony Horsfield, director of the Open College. The finance sector, he says, has undergone a revolution from a traditionally staid and conservative entity to a dynamic, customer-focused, more user-friendly sales environment.

"Improved communications and the speed with which financial affairs and transactions are carried out has meant that any member of the workforce communicating with the public has become the guardian of the company's corporate brand. High levels of service are no longer desired, but demanded, by the customer as the price of success in a highly competitive market place."

Leading banks and building societies, Mr Horsfield says, have recognised the value of investing in training and development as a means of attracting and retaining high-quality staff. Many have well-established reputations as providers of the on-the-job training and development. But today a far broader skills base is required than ever before, which is why so many are now turning to specialist training providers such as the Open College to meet their needs.

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