No matter what type of business you are in, continued training is essential to success. Companies are experiencing a powerful movement in the workforce with the Baby Boomer generation retiring and a new generation entering the workforce.

As the Boomers leave, they take with them valuable skill-sets, experience and years of training and education. Incoming professionals possess education and technical skills, yet have limited experience. Companies are struggling with how to close the gap between industry knowledge and experience, and basic technical training. Training, offered in-house or outsourced, is how leaders and employees are elevated to higher levels of performance.

Yet, there are several common objections to employee training.

One objection we often hear is, “Is it really worth it to send employees to training?” Most professionals can say they’ve had training during their careers that didn’t provide adequate returns. Another objection: Sending employees out of town for training can become very expensive. Not only is there a fee for the training itself, but there are costs for travel, transportation, per diem, lodging, and additional materials that add up quickly.

For instance, sending an employee to high-level training in Washington, D.C., can cost more than $2,500. This does not even include the actual training fees. On top of these direct costs, there are indirect costs associated with the employee being out of the workplace for additional travel days. These considerations, along with tighter budgets, dissuade employers from sending staff and leadership to out-of-town training.

Fortunately, there is a new close-to-home training option for companies in the Colorado Springs area. In 2011, the UCCS College of Business launched the Office of Professional & Executive Development (OPED) to serve as a training resource for local organizations. Most peer universities to UCCS offer non-credit executive education and professional development programs.

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Programs are generally practical, short (between 2-4 days) and taught by university faculty. OPED offers programs using an “industry-vertical” strategy, meaning that programs are co-developed with industry leaders. The industry-vertical strategy is unique to OPED, enabling us to be responsive to the needs of each industry and design training accordingly. It has enabled deep conversations between OPED leadership and industry leaders in the respective verticals, which are important for identifying and developing relevant, impactful and strategic programming.

Industry-specific examples and case studies are also included in program design to reinforce learning objectives for deeper, targeted learning. OPED is currently working with health care, banking/finance and defense/aerospace industries.

Also in 2011, the College of Business designed a training program co-developed with local health care entities: Leadership Development for Emerging Healthcare Leaders. The program has been successful six times, and participants come from area organizations and hospitals. In October, OPED is offering the defense/aerospace industry Shipley’s Managing & Writing Federal Proposals for Defense/Aerospace Professionals, facilitated by industry-respected Shipley Associates.

[pullquote]These programs give an opportunity for the university’s world-class faculty expertise to be utilized by the community.[/pullquote]

For most programs, the faculty is a mix of UCCS College of Business faculty and industry-specific trainers, enabling the university’s world-class faculty expertise to be utilized by the community. To name a few, Ken Sylvester has more than 40 years of experience in negotiations, conflict management and implementing change in organizations. Don Warrick also has 40-plus years of experience in leadership and management through changing times. These and other College of Business faculty members are eager to get engaged with your training needs through OPED.

OPED is one of the many ways the College of Business is a resource to the business community. Besides quality graduates, internships, job placement and international opportunities, it also offers training programs that companies can utilize right away. Employees remain local, dollars remain local, and companies have the opportunity get directly involved in program development. They also have the opportunity to contact the trainers for follow-up assistance, and to have input on other needed programs for their industry.

Customized training programs can support the individual needs of companies, and OPED can become a trusted partner in training and developing people.

Our goal is to build the foundation for a long-term, effective local training and development resource and to do our part to support and enhance local businesses.

Shawna L. Rogers is director of the Office of Professional and Executive Development, UCCS College of Business.