“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
Some bosses realize the value of educated employees and offer educational opportunities, tuition reimbursement and training assistance packages. Other employers, well let’s just say they may need some convincing. Nevertheless, a company’s investment in the training and education of their employees is of paramount importance both for the employee and the employer.
If you’re eager to pursue an additional degree, industry certification, or training to keep up your PDUs/CDUs, you will need to know what your employer’s policies are on employee training and development, and then prepare yourself to make a strong case to attend training, further your education, or obtain that degree.
First Steps – Research
During that initial employment interview, (you know the one where you were both excited and nervous to make it back for a 2nd interview) it is most likely that your employer told you about the benefits of the position, or provided you with a compensation package which outlined training and development. Has it been a few years since you looked at it? Has it changed? Has management pushed aside training due to larger projects or initiatives? You need to roll up your sleeves and look.
Check your employee handbook, intranet, HR materials, or even union contracts to determine if any company policies surrounding tuition reimbursement exist. It is also recommended to look into whether or not your company qualifies for tax deductions for reimbursing education. If it is unclear, your manager, Human Resources, or Accounting departments may be able to assist you.
Employer Sponsored Training Programs
Some employers are large enough to have a training and development department that offers ongoing courses, or they may even collaborate with a nearby college or university to offer training. Take some time and look into what kinds of programs exist in the workplace. Some employers offer scholarships as part of their benefits package, while some extend financial assistance on a case-by-case basis. They may even offer paid time off for employees to study or write certification exams.
Course / Training Search
Once you have figured out which program or training you are interested in it is time to search for courses, figure out how much it will cost, and what your time commitment will be. Education institutions have become more flexible in their course scheduling. There are so many options for full-time employees to enable a balance between work, education, and family.
There are opportunities and options to enroll in online courses, night courses, weekend course or a condensed course that take place over a short amount of time. Choose what fits with your schedule and time commitment.
Prepare for your meeting with your employer
Are you prepared? Think of this as a presentation, and your education is the focus. Prepare for the potential questions your boss or HR representative will ask you, beyond the basics of program costs and time.
They may ask you what the benefits for the company paying for your education will be, both immediate and long-term benefits. Be prepared to answer both questions. Typically, companies look for a return on investment (ROI), and your education is an investment in both yourself and your organization. Outline the benefits you will bring to the organization once you have obtained that certificate or degree.
Investing in yourself
Earning a degree, a certificate, or a credential is a great way to gain the advanced skills in your field or to embark on a new path toward another field. Education can be expensive, especially in the technology field. Consider it an investment in yourself. It may have been years since you earned your first degree or certification; however, education and personal growth does not cease as soon as you land a job if you wish to advance your career.
Have you convinced yourself that your organization will not go for it? Are you too nervous to ask? You may need to conduct an education risk assessment, to help you gain the confidence to approach your boss. If you are still nervous, you can always engage the assistance of a friend or family member, making your case to them as a test run for your presentation to your employer.
The bottom line is that your career is a resource worth investing in, and you never know what the answer will be unless you ask. You are worth it!