Bell Telephone Co. - American EducationA pioneer in workplace vocational education and one of the first companies to establish formal, in-house educational programs to teach employees a wide range of managerial, scientific and vocational skills. Because of the new and specialized nature of the work, Bell set up operators’ and telephone installers’ schools in its offices and plants at the turn of the 20th century. Courses ran one or more weeks, depending on the complexity of the work. When American Telephone & Telegraph Co. established Bell Laboratories as a separate research arm in 1925, it put education in Bell’s domain, and Bell Laboratories expanded the educational program to include almost every aspect of work within the company.
During the 1950s, Bell’s education program expanded into one of the largest, most far-reaching adult education programs in the world, with an annual budget in excess of $1 billion. Until the 1982 court-ordered breakup of American Telephone & Telegraph Co., the Human Resource Department, as the educational arm was called, boasted a universitystyle campus in Illinois where the company not only trained new and newly promoted employees for their jobs but offered advanced education to its entire scientific and technical staff. The advanced education consisted of classroom managerial instruction akin to graduate business schools. (See also corporation colleges and schools.)