GM Partners With Online Co.
DETROIT (AP) _ General Motors Corp. said Wednesday it has partnered with an online education outfit to offer upper-level business courses to the automaker’s 88,000 white-collar workers.
Under the four-year deal, participating workers can access a UNext subsidiary for courses. The site will offer content from affiliate universities catered to a worker’s learning goals and schedule.
GM said it will get warrants to buy an unspecified stake in privately held UNext, based in Deerfield, Ill., a Chicago suburb. Other terms, including the venture’s potential cost to GM, were not disclosed.
``Let’s face it, the world is changing rapidly, and those who don’t react quickly to embrace change will be left behind,″ said Katy Barclay, GM’s vice president of global human resources. ``This is not about having the neatest technological toys; this is about empowering people.″
Courses have been developed with Columbia Business School, Stanford, the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business, Carnegie Mellon and the London School of Economics and Political Science.
With GM, UNext’s Cardean University will tailor courses to GM’s auto business and, in some cases, to individual needs.
The alliance gets past time and distance limitations that perhaps put business schools out of the reach of some workers, GM said.
So-called e-learning, including corporate training and education, is expected to grow from $6.3 billion this year to more than $23 billion in 2004, according to International Data Corp.
The most recent federal survey of distance education, for the 1997-98 academic year, estimated a 1.4 million enrollment in college-level courses for credit. Experts say participation in the fast-growing field is now in the millions.
About 75 percent of the nation’s established two- and four-year colleges and universities have some online presence, according to Idaho-based InterEd, which helps institutions enter the online market.
GM’s worker-development efforts are through its 4-year-old General Motors University for professional, supervisory and salaried workers. Last year, the university offered 1,300 courses for its white-collared ranks.
Enrollment in the UNext program would mean ``truly no cost to the employee,″ said Donnee Ramelli, General Motors University’s president.
``If change is constant, learning must be continuous,″ he said. ``Businesses that are strong, smart and fast will be the winner in the next several decades. We think learning can drive GM’s performance in a number of dimensions.″
GM said it was immediately unclear whether the UNext service would be expanded to all of the company’s 386,000 workers worldwide.
Cardean is accredited by the Washington, D.C.-based Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council and is authorized to grant degrees by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
Andrew Rosenfield, UNext’s chairman, founder and chief executive, is an economist, lawyer and educator who has taught at the University of Chicago Law School. He also is the chairman of Lexecon Inc., an economic consulting firm.
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