Sun, 13 Apr 2003

Short-term courses can create high-powered professionals

Debbie A. Lubis Contributor Jakarta

"Higher education and business are basically interdependent. One needs money to produce educated people, and the other needs educated people to produce money," goes a saying from Milton S. Eisenhower in Words of Wisdom.

Producing professionals still, of course, relies on formal educational institutions. But providing know-how on management within a short period of time is another story. Many educational institutions in big cities, especially in Jakarta, are trying to meet this challenge.

They try to cater for the growing demand of young and senior executives who crave more competence, especially in business management skills.

"I'm glad that I can run my business well, although I'm only a high-school graduate," Hidayat, 48, said. He acknowledged that taking three, short management courses had helped him better to manage his small advertising agency in Tebet, South Jakarta, and five employees.

Crisis, stiff competition and the application of more advanced technology have forced businesspeople these days to become "real professionals", at least in their own fields.

Through short-term managerial courses, they can learn how to renew their business strategies and quickly adapt to rapid changes and challenges in economics and technology. The courses usually come in the form of a variety of programs, subjects, rates and periods of study.

In general, the courses offer regular classes for individuals, while a special class is referred to as "in-house company training". Both are available every month. Most of the packages last from two days to one month, with tuition fees ranging from Rp 1.5 million to Rp 10 million (about US$1,175). As the classes start in the morning, most of the educational institutions provide free meals and coffee breaks for participants.

The participants may choose one course subject from dozens of options under the category "core knowledge and skills", such as human resource management, marketing management, finance and accounting management, strategic management, operations management, decision making and special topics.

"Classes for in-house training have been much in demand recently, while the most favorite subject for regular classes is good corporate governance," Sundari, a public relations officer from the economics management institute at the University of Indonesia (LMUI), said. Most of its clients work as senior staff in banks.

LMUI was established in 1963. It offers 22 course subjects for regular classes, with tuition fees ranging from Rp 1.75 million to Rp 3.5 million. The class can run if 15 students are registered; if there are more than 20, the class will be run in a hotel.

There are seven subjects available for in-house-training classes, with tuition fees charged per session (up to Rp 1 million per 60 minutes) or per participant (up to Rp 1.7 million per person) and one class may have a maximum of 25 participants.

Sundari said that the programs were available for those who had graduated from senior high school and the participants would receive a certificate only if they attended all sessions in the chosen program.

Educational background, however, is not an essential requirement for the participants of managerial and strategic short courses at Prasetiya Mulya Business School. It has offered 33 subjects for regular classes and 40 for in-house training classes within the past 15 years.

The classes usually last for two days to four days. The tuition fee for a managerial short course ranges from Rp 1.4 million to Rp 1.7 million, while the strategic short course fee is from Rp 2.3 million to Rp 3.2 million.

The courses use practical and participative methods, in which the participants get involved in lecture sessions, case studies and group discussion. In some programs, role-play, video recording and computer simulation are also applied. Course participants receive a certificate only if they have attended at least 70 percent of the sessions.

Prasetiya Mulya's charges for in-house training standard classes are based on the number of participants. At least 15 participants should attend the class if it is run at the Prasetiya Mulya building, or 24 participants if it is outside.

A lecture session in the company can last for a maximum of three hours, including a question-and-answer session.

Meanwhile, the PPM Institute of Management offers around 69 subjects in its Executive Development classes, which are held in the evening.

The classes usually last for 12 hours to 40 hours and the fee ranges from Rp 2 million to Rp 3.75 million.

Established in 1969, PPE programs had served more than 320,000 participants by December 2001. Educational background is not a requirement for this program.

PPM also offers Special Executive Development programs -- or in-house training -- that are run on the basis of a training- needs survey. By the end of 2000, the institute had catered to more than 310,000 participants.

The packages consist of eight-hour lecture session/seminars; standard training that can be modified from 12-hour to 40-hour sessions to eight-hour ones; and an eight-hour, specially designed training session.

To cater for the needs of young managers, PPM provides a five- week program, the "Young Managers' Program".

With a fee of Rp 9.9 million, the program runs from Monday to Friday, starting at 3:30 p.m. and finishing at 9 p.m. The fee includes lesson materials, meals, snacks and beverages, a certificate and a graduation ceremony.

Fresh university graduates (S1) who have no job experience and diploma three (D3) graduates who have worked for three years can enter the program. "The program is designed for those who have worked at initial line management level. The participants are taught how to produce a comprehensive business plan and put corporate strategies into action," PPM customer officer Rini Baroto said.

The sessions are delivered through discussion, study visits to companies, case studies and simulation. The course aims to enable its participants to build teamwork, develop good leadership skills and personality traits, improve their problem-solving skills and become better acquainted with supervision techniques.

To attract more participants to enter their managerial short courses, some educational institutions offer discounts. Prasetiya Mulya offers a 7.5 percent discount to participants who pay the course fee two weeks before classes begin, while PPM gives a 5 percent discount to those who pay three weeks beforehand. Both institutions also offer fee exemption to one student if a company sends ten or more participants to different short courses.

Participants usually have to pay a fine of Rp 100,000 if they cancel a course a minimum of three days before classes are due to begin and a fine of 50 percent of the course fee or loss of total money paid if the cancellation occurs on the first day of the course.