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New center targets older managers

Aiming to fill a niche by training forty and fifty-something managers at mid-sized companies, the Slovak Management Training Center (SMTC) officially started operations on November 26.
SMTC, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, will endeavor to combat what its director, Scott Bressler, called "creeping ageism" - a preference in many companies to look for managers under 35. Bressler noted that most management training efforts in Slovakia since 1989 have been targeted at students, not current authority figures. He said that only the very biggest Slovak firms, plus select international companies, have been offering their managers mid-career training.


"Organizations that do not invest in training do not thrive. Countries that do not encourage this development do not compete."

Patricia Lerner, USAID Representative


Aiming to fill a niche by training forty and fifty-something managers at mid-sized companies, the Slovak Management Training Center (SMTC) officially started operations on November 26.

SMTC, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, will endeavor to combat what its director, Scott Bressler, called "creeping ageism" - a preference in many companies to look for managers under 35.

Bressler noted that most management training efforts in Slovakia since 1989 have been targeted at students, not current authority figures. He said that only the very biggest Slovak firms, plus select international companies, have been offering their managers mid-career training.

This tendency is dangerous because, as Patricia Lerner, USAID's representative to Slovakia, said, "Organizations that do not invest in training, do not thrive. Countries that do not encourage this development do not compete."

Bressler said the market SMTC's services can cater to consists of managers in a pool of about 700 companies. For 1,500 Sk per day, managers will be trained via role plays, simulations, and small group presentations. The program is designed so that certification can be earned in a year without missing more than one day of work a week.

The current contract calls for USAID to provide SMTC with $100,000 per month through next June. If deemed worthy, the funding could then be extended. "This is dependent upon seeing that there is demand for this kind of program," Lerner said. "Based on five years of AID experience in Slovakia, this is where we believe the demand is. If not, then funds will be re-directed to another and higher purpose."

But given that Lerner said she hopes the Center to be part of "our legacy" to Slovakia, Bressler said SMTC will strive to become a "viable, permanent training organization." As for a target transition date, Bressler only said, "We hope that by the end of 1997 we will be close."

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