February 1, 2017


10 Secrets of successful corporate academies

Skills development in the workplace is enshrined in South African legislation because it is so important. Limited space in universities, lack of access to funding and a myriad other issues make employee development and skills transfer ever more important.

The challenge for any company is to be a learning and development organisation able to transform experiences into information, information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. Only then can the company remain a thriving, sustainable entity.

Against this background, corporate universities/academies have emerged as enablers of learning and development. They foster leadership, creative thinking, innovation and problem solving and provide employees with practical business knowledge, managerial competence and task-oriented education.


10 Success Secrets

  1. Be flexible. If the scheduling, teaching methods and learning modes are not flexible, the academy may fail or be ineffective.
  2. Concentrate on broad knowledge. Successful academies focus on transferring broad knowledge, while training programmes teach specific skills.
  3. Clarify role and strategy. Define the role of the academy so that it aligns with the organisation’s purpose, mission, vision, values and strategic focus.
  4. Establish proper oversight. Decide who must exercise oversight and governance of the academy – should it be HR, the COO, a marketing executive, the CFO, CEO or a separate board?
  5. Align the academy with business needs. The programmes, solutions and services of the academy must be aligned with the needs of the business.
  6. Develop partnerships with key executives. Cultivate positive relationships with management so that issues and business problems can be resolved easily.
  7. Manage the academy as a business. Like the rest of the organisation, the corporate academy should operate within the budget, deliver programmes efficiently, manage vendor relationships productively and provide excellent customer service.
  8. Demonstrate the value of the academy. A scorecard using qualitative and quantitative data could be used to demonstrate the value of the academy to top management.
  9. Involve managers. All phases of the learning process should involve managers. Some should take an active role, such as facilitating a programme or reviewing results; others should play an advisory role.
  10. Market the academy. Marketing is essential for the internal stakeholders to understand what the corporate academy represents and contributes.
  11. https://pixabay.com/en/hat-diploma-graduation-graduate-297099/


The role of the university is not to get employees thinking alike but to give them the analytical tools and skills and to encourage them to think differently and to challenge. Training gives you skills, but it doesn’t ask you to think differently.

– Steven Kirn, Vice-President of Innovation and Learning Development at Sears Roebuck & Co.


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