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Recording employees' academic progress for future company needs

Has an employee learned to learn? It's a key question executives of major US multinational corporations are asking. Making sure employees continue to learn is central to a company's success. In many companies, the lines between human resource development and a formal educational institution frequently overlap.

* Atlantic Richfield Company (Arco) keeps a training records system for each of its employees at corporate headquarters in Los Angeles. Rockwell International has a similar system. The record resembles an academic transcript and is kept on computer. All work-related courses and training programs taken by an employee since joining the company are on file.

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The training records system (TRS for short) helps management make decisions on employee promotions and monitors the company's strengths and weaknesses in key, fast changing high-tech areas.

''An individual needs to know where the company is going, just as the company needs to know where an individual is going. The marriage of these two interests improves productivity; TRS helps us follow this,'' said Mr. Buckles.

* An employee's request that Arco or Rockwell certify a course for work-related tuition reimbursement can benefit any other employee who wishes to take the same course. From the colleges' point of view, the company acts as an external quality-control auditor.

''We evaluate college courses, and colleges see us as implementing state-of-the-art technology. They have the ideas, and we have the real world practice of it,'' said Dr. Richard J. Buckles, manager of Arco's corporate office of training and development.

* Rockwell's data processing unit in Seal Beach, Calif., runs a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week learning center for its employees. Courses range from computer-sciences to memo writing.

''Training feeds on itself,'' said John Hauver, in charge of personnel development at the Seal Beach facility. ''Some of the older executives don't understand that when computers came into aerospace work, a guy could take his skills across the street to the local bank or anywhere in the country, not just to Lockheed. We know many of our computer-oriented employees place as much value on what they learn as what they're paid.''

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