How Companies Can Offer Continuing Education for Their Employees

Introduction

Continuing education can be an exciting idea for your staff, but many may hesitate to pursue it. Between the cost, time requirement, and lack of payoff, many employees feel that continuing their education wouldn’t be worth it. As their employer, you can change their views on the values of continuing education for the benefit of your company. Here are a list of some creative and traditional ways companies can offer continuing education for their employees.

Take a Survey of Interest 

Before you dive in completely, take a survey of interest. Find out where your staff fall on the idea of continuing education. Ask them about their goals, dreams, and aspirations. Ask them what is standing in their way of pursuing continuing education. Ask if they’d rather do short-term training or a long-term college degree. Knowing these things can help you decide how to move forward.

“Continuing education is often thought of as college courses, but it can mean a variety of things,” says Kim Walls, CEO and Co-Founder of Furtuna Skin. “If most of your staff already have degrees or the field they’re in doesn’t really need a higher level degree, they won’t be likely to take advantage of continuing their education through college courses. However, there may be trainings, licenses, or certifications that they’re interested in earning instead. Often, these options are less expensive and time-consuming and will help your company have more qualified employees too.”
Continuing Education
Identify Possible Internal Training and Education Opportunities

Look at the people you have on your team. Do you have experts in certain areas or people that are looking to move up into a role like their superior? Offering internal training and education opportunities where your staff can teach each other not only offers a great opportunity for learning, but it increases the company culture and boosts relationships as well.

“A great opportunity to look at is leadership training,” says Cesar Cruz, Co-Founder of Sebastian Cruz Couture. “This can often be taught by people within your organization who have leadership experience, and it can give your staff who are in those lower-level or entry-level jobs something to pursue that will be worthwhile for their careers.”

Create an Internal CE program

Depending on your industry, it may be possible to create an internal continuing education program. By creating your own training and courses, you’re providing the exact information that people would need to be successful within your organization. These training sessions could introduce people to things they’d need to know if they were to move up from their current position and they can really help out in case someone leaves.

“Internal continuing education is a fantastic way to train your staff and provide learning opportunities while also preparing for the future of your organization,” says Sasha Ramani, Associate Director of Corporate Strategy at MPOWER Financing. “We all know that it’s often easier to hire internally, but if those people have already been trained and introduced to job practices of higher up positions, the training process becomes effortless and you can move forward without missing a beat.”

Talk to Other Organizations about Collaborative Training

If you’re a small business, or even a medium-sized organization, you may not have the funds, staff, or resources to offer training courses. Reach out to local organizations in similar fields to your company and ask if you could pay to send your staff to some of their training or band together with some other businesses and split the cost of training.

“Having professionals come in to train your staff can be pricey,” says Max Ade, CEO of Pickleheads. “This is often a reason that smaller organizations don’t pursue continuing education options for their staff. However, if you’re splitting the cost or only paying a portion of it, it can become a much more feasible idea.”

Partner with a Local or Online University

Partnering with a local or online university can allow you to offer courses and training to your staff at a reduced cost. Often, these local or online universities offer professional training options for brands to take advantage of, or they may be willing to enter a partnership.

“Look into local community colleges, local universities, or online options for your staff,” says Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder and CEO of OSDB Sports. “Some of these places may have specific continuing education options for organizations to take advantage of for reduced rates.”

Have Staff Share What They’ve Learned

If you have staff partaking in these continuing education courses, ask them to share their knowledge with the group. While others won’t necessarily earn a degree or have access to the same resources, they can still gain from the knowledge of their peers. 

“Brown bag meetings or training sessions to review a course or training that someone just completed is a great way for your staff to share their knowledge with each other,” says Sumeer Kaur, CEO of Lashkaraa. “This is really great when you have a group of people continuing education in different areas because the brown bag meetings can become very diverse and interesting for other staff to attend.”

Give Days Off for Continuing Education Purposes

Offering paid time off for people pursuing continuing education is a great way to motivate them to jump on board with the idea. Many people who haven’t pursued continuing education claim it’s due to the time requirement that they’d have to commit. By allowing them to have a certain number of hours each week to designate to studying or attending courses, you may increase the staff interest in continuing education.

“Many of your staff already lead busy lives,” says Maegan Griffin, Founder, CEO and nurse practitioner of Skin Pharm. “Between work and family, they probably don’t feel they have the time to attend and study for continuing education courses. Offering on-the-clock time for studying or doing homework each week can be a great alternative. Since it is essentially professional development for their current job it’s an expense that will pay off for your company in the end. Even if they can only accomplish half of their coursework during this time, it will make finding time for the other half much more manageable.”

Offer to Reimburse Partial or Complete Tuition 

It’s no secret that continuing education can be expensive. Offer to reimburse partial or complete tuition for people that choose to take advantage of the continuing education benefits through your company. This can be a great way to encourage your staff to pursue higher education and training and make your staff more qualified.

“While this isn’t always feasible for every company, if you can offer partial or full tuition reimbursement you’re much more likely to see your staff sign up for continuing education courses,” says Cody Candee, Founder and CEO of Bounce Luggage Storage. “There are a lot of things that may be standing in the way of your staff pursuing continuing education options and cost is probably a big one.”

Provide a Continuing Education “Allowance”

If offering tuition assistance isn’t able to be done through a specific college or university, explore ways you could offer a sort of “education allowance.” Your staff would be able to pick their own training, certification, or degree programs to pursue, which can allow for more individualized continuing education options.

“Allowing your staff to choose the continuing education type that they want to pursue can be a great option,” says Brian Lee, Co-Founder and CEO of ARENA CLUB. “It’s wise to require approval for these programs because, unfortunately, there are a lot of training or education programs out there that end up being scams. Make sure your staff is pursuing licensure, certifications, or degrees from reputable sources.”

Create a Salary Scale for Continuing Education

If you can’t offer reimbursement or financial aid for continuing education, the next best option is a pay raise or bonus for people who complete continuing education credits. In some ways, your staff may prefer this option because the salary increase is sometimes more helpful than covering a couple credits of courses.

“Offering an increase in salary or a one-time bonus for your staff is a great way to motivate them to pursue continuing education,” says Marcus Hutsen, Business Development Manager of Patriot Coolers. “Not only are you gaining more valuable and qualified employees, but they’re going to be happy with their current situation too. Remember, if they’re becoming more qualified, they’re probably worth more to other companies and they may start exploring other employment options if they don’t feel they’re being paid enough.”

Conclusion

Offering continuing education benefits to your staff can be a great way to boost morale, improve your brand’s capabilities, and encourage your staff to develop professionally. While many of your staff may be interested in pursuing higher education, licenses, or certificates, there may be hurdles like cost or time that are standing in their way. Help them navigate this by providing assistance through some ideas shared in this article.

Dubois, L. (2010, August 18). How to implement a continuing education program. Inc.com. Retrieved September 13, 2022, from https://www.inc.com/guides/2010/08/how-to-implement-a-continuing-education-program.html 

Kauflin, J. (2017, September 29). How to keep employees engaged with continuing education. Forbes. Retrieved September 13, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffkauflin/2017/09/29/how-to-keep-employees-engaged-with-continuing-education/?sh=2fcf2d94c517 

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