Learning today is both a luxury and an urgent necessity: a good education is not so easy to get, and without it, it is impossible to get a real job. In the business environment, market success depends above all on a company’s ability to learn and respond to change faster than its competitors. That is why knowledge is the main capital in modern economy. Technologies are changing rapidly, innovations are constantly being introduced, production processes are improving, and the range of goods and services provided is expanding. Interaction with the client and product quality are reaching the first level of importance. Only work ahead of time allows achieving success. Accordingly, constant readiness for changes and, as a result, continuous learning with an emphasis on the development of learning ability is the key to prosperity and longevity in the modern world.
Today, the struggle for talent between employers is a reality of our lives. And people who have the knowledge and ability to constantly learn are most in demand in the labor market. Thus, the talent itself chooses who to work for, in which company it is possible to fully develop its potential and learn something new. Accordingly, a company that wants not only to attract, but also to retain the best personnel, must create conditions in which employees will feel in demand, will be able to continuously replenish the luggage of knowledge and skills, enriching both professionally and personally. In turn, “learning” organizations succeed in realizing their strategic goals by accumulating, sharing, preserving and multiplying knowledge. This is the mutual interest of the company and the employee.
An important link in this chain is higher education institutions – the main suppliers of young personnel for business. And here the problem of interaction of academic and commercial worlds is topical. In the paradigm of the customer-supplier, ideas about the “ideal product” often differ. Theorists, future researchers, generalists, researchers, philosophers, romanticists, who spend all their free time in “readers”, are still being nurtured in the academic and university environment. Business is pragmatic. What is required is practices with business acumen, certain “field” experience, ready to be quickly integrated into real work. But the very nature of the university is different from the business environment. Universities carry out research work and produce intellectual products, on which there is not always a customer in the market in the traditional sense. Academic work in the field of cultural heritage, history, philosophy, religion is still one of the tasks of universities today and needs funding. Insufficient funding from the state against the background of increased demand for quality education largely determines the state of stress in which Russian universities are today.
But the abyss is not that big, and there is a mutual oncoming movement. We are not talking about a complete merger of the university and business – we need to look for common ground and ways of mutually beneficial cooperation. Adaptation of curricula to modern realities on the part of universities, financing of students’ education and research on the part of business not only increase interdependence, but also lead to harmonization of interests of these two structures. Given the difference in goals and objectives, it is impossible to achieve perfect correspondence, and business itself fills this niche. With its participation, corporate universities and training centres within companies are created, aimed at filling the gap in knowledge and skills among young professionals.
What is a modern company looking for in university graduates? First of all, it is potential, desire and willingness to develop, to grow both professionally and personally. The internal “drive”, ability to set and solve ambitious tasks is also valued. For example, Shell uses three main criteria in the selection of students. Firstly, the ability to work intellectually and make informed decisions, i.e., the ability to extract, analyse, structure information, predict consequences, evaluate real and potential opportunities and risks… Secondly, the employer assesses the willingness of the applicant to set goals and achieve results. It is important that the active beginning is not inferior to the thinking one. And finally, the necessary condition is the ability to build relationships with customers, colleagues, suppliers, etc.
All three parameters are equal, i.e. have the same weight when making a decision to hire a young specialist aimed at a career in Shell. Obviously, having these qualities, a person is able to quickly adapt in an unfamiliar environment, to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills and on this basis create something new.
Coming to work, a graduate, having academic knowledge in a certain area, immediately plunges into a new “learning” environment – a more concentrated solution of corporate standards, technologies, norms, values, rules of conduct. And all this needs to be mastered in a very short time. It is good, if there is a formal course for adaptation of newcomers… But most often the training takes place on their own experience, the method of trial and error, the number of stuffed bumps.
Many companies have programs aimed at “putting new recruits into operation”. For example, Shell has a development program for university graduates. It includes a variety of elements: on-the-job training, coaching, mentoring, formal training, distance courses, etc. The main task of the program is to develop future leaders of the concern by forming and improving professional and leadership competencies. Investing in the future of young specialists, the concern invests in its own future, ensuring continuity when managerial generations change.
In conclusion, I would like to stress once again that continuous training and the use of the acquired knowledge in practice is a prerequisite for the survival and self-realization not only of the employee, but also of the company. Training and development is oxygen, it is a continuous movement forward, the start of which is taken from birth, and there is simply no finishing ribbon and no possibility to rest on our laurels.