AT&T; 'College' Updates Job Skills

Associated Press

Students enrolled in any of the 270 courses offered at the AT&T; Technologies Corporate Education Center take no tests, get paid while they learn and have a dress code at dinner.

Recent hires and long-time employees alike come here to improve their job skills in engineering, computers and such non-technical professions as accounting.

"We're not looking for them to get As. We don't give tests. What we do is provide a learning experience so that when they get back on their jobs, they perform in a superior way," said Donald Conover, general manager of education and training for AT&T; Technologies, the non-regulated sector of American Telephone & Telegraph Co.

This learning facility is one of some 400 such sites called colleges, universities, institutes or education centers around the country. Most were set up to introduce workers to company customs and procedures or to update skills.

At the AT&T; center, most courses last a week, with students arriving Sunday evening and leaving Friday.

The corporate approach to learning differs from traditional college education.

"Where a university program is a collection of courses leading to a degree, most of our programs are needs-driven. Our education is to help a person become a superior performer," said Conover.

"The philosophy for adults to learn is different. . . . We focus on performance improvement," he said. "They come here wanting to learn because it is in their self-interest. We don't have to create artificial stimulants."

Customers from around the world who buy AT&T; products, such as personal computers and advanced telephone systems, also take courses at the center in this rural community bordering Princeton and about 10 miles from Trenton.

Opened in 1969, it is one of three corporate education centers in the country run by AT&T; Technologies, based in Berkeley Heights, N.J. The others are in Lisle, Ill., near Chicago, and Dublin, Ohio, near Columbus.

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