Whether or not an organisation should invest in continuing education is a common debate in the corporate board room. Often times, employers remain focused on the dollar signs involved in either paying for education or setting up appropriate training programmes, while overlooking the ways in which their investment can be returned.
No matter how experienced an individual is, both the employee and their employer can benefit from continuing their education.
Specialised training and advanced degrees increase the professional abilities of the employee, and their new found knowledge allows them to find innovative new approaches to completing their tasks or solving workplace problems.
When employees seeking continuing education are supported by corporate culture, they often find themselves increasingly dedicated to their organisation and are less likely to seek employment elsewhere, saving the organisation time and money that would otherwise be spent on recruiting and training efforts.
Whether or not employees hold a degree, registering with a professional organisation and regularly attending meetings and events is an excellent source of continued education in their targeted field. Employers may wish to consider upfront coverage or reimbursement for the costs of attending professional conferences, as these often feature talks on the latest innovations in the industry.
While these conferences are an excellent way to stay up to date in the field, they typically do not offer job training or certification classes.
Once an organisation has decided to invest in continuing education, the next step is to determine the types of programmes that will be offered or covered. Many organisations choose to offer periodic luncheon talks or training programmes, or may invest in the development of web-based training software that employees can work through at their own pace.
In addition, arrangements could be made with consulting firms to come to the workplace and offer more extensive or time-intensive training programmes outside of the scope that can be covered in luncheon talks.
For positions requiring extensive training, professional certifications, or college degrees, employees will likely need to enrol in programmes outside of the office. In these cases, employers must consider the cost-benefits ratio when determining the extent to which reimbursements will be offered.
For many employers, 100% tuition coverage is offered for relatively inexpensive certification programmes, while expensive degrees at higher institutions are only partially or contingently funded and the costs of books and supplies are left to the employee.
Many individuals will unconsciously put more effort into completing the programme successfully if they are partially responsible for the costs, or if the degree of reimbursement depends on their ability to maintain a certain grade.
In the end, employees attempting to further their career with continuing education will only succeed if they are adequately supported in the workplace. The organisational culture must be willing to accommodate necessary scheduling changes to allow the employee to attend classes and have adequate time to study.
If the company cannot afford even a temporary loss in productivity, permitting the employee to telecommute may allow them to find a balance between the demands of work and school.
Employees who have completed continuing education programmes are often prime candidates for promotions within the organisation.
Given that they are already integrated into the organisational culture, they often effortlessly adapt to their new roles with a newfound drive and sense of pride. The support they received throughout the education process will be returned to the organisation tenfold with increased loyalty, productivity, and innovation.