One of the biggest trends sweeping through the 2016 Best Firms to Work For is the creation of individual firm universities.
They’re not actual universities, of course (among other things, there are no crippling student loans involved). Rather, they’re training and development programs that range from training incoming staff in the firm’s policies and procedures, to large-scale collections of in-house courses on everything from technical subjects and professional developments to “soft skills” and management.
In Kansas, for instance, Allen Gibbs & Houlik’s AGH YOUniversity provides young staff at the firm with soft skills training, while in St. Louis, Brown Smith Wallace’s Brown Smith Wallace University is a “training and development program providing technical, professional and elective courses and personal career advisors/mentors to promote continuous reinforcement.” (The firm also has “Power Groups” that meet monthly to develop members’ business development and networking skills.)
And at Illinois’ Warady & Davis, W&D University offers “a comprehensive career development curriculum from internship year one through partner,” the firm reported, with firm members receiving a minimum of 40 hours of training annually on a variety of technical topics, management, leadership and communication skills.
Of course, you don’t have to call it a university; the important point is to offer the learning opportunity, like the 80 credits of CPE courses that are offered annually in-house at Pennsylvania’s Barnes Saly & Co. The firm also pays for over 200 credits of outside CPE annually, covering course fees, mileage and hotel fees.
Besides covering a crucial professional obligation for employees, taking an active hand in employees’ education allows firms a chance to make sure staff are developing skills that will further the firm’s growth plans.
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