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How — and Why — to Implement a Corporate Continuing Education Program

Continuing Education 1If you’re a small-business owner, you might wonder if providing your employees with continuing education opportunities is worth it. Large, Fortune 100 companies can spend more than $1 billion a year on continuing education for their workers, but your training and development budget will necessarily be much, much smaller. You may even be worried that offering your employees training and development opportunities will simply encourage them to take their new skills to another company.

In fact, the opposite is true. Today’s workers know that they need to keep updating their skills in order to stay relevant in the workplace. When you offer employee training programs that help your workers continue to learn, grow, and hone their professional skills, they’ll be happier in their jobs and two-thirds more likely to stay with your company.

Trained staff are happy staff because they appreciate an employer who’s willing to invest in them. What’s more, your company will benefit from a staff that continues to augment its skills and talents. But how can you implement a successful employee training and development program? Many smaller companies outsource HR training. If you don’t think your employees need to pursue full-on master’s or bachelor’s degrees, there are still plenty of continuing education and certification options.

Partner With a Local University

Many universities offer continuing education programs to adults in the workforce. Night classes or online classes are the norm for these kinds of programs, making them easy for your employees to complete. Full-time master’s and bachelor’s programs are also available through university continuing education departments. If you would like to encourage your employees to pursue a college education or an advanced degree, you can offer some form of tuition reimbursement. Consider some of the following questions when considering a tuition reimbursement program:

  • What types of courses will be covered?
  • What is the minimum GPA you’d like an employee to maintain in order to qualify?
  • How many classes may an employee be reimbursed for each semester?
  • What percentage of tuition are you willing or able to reimburse?
  • Can employees use paid time off to attend classes?
  • Will employees who already have a degree be allowed to participate in the program?
  • Are you willing or able to reimburse tuition for post-graduate degrees?
  • How long will you require employees to stay with the company after they have completed their education?

Offering tuition reimbursement for undergraduate and even graduate degrees is a great way to keep employees loyal and help them feel that your company supports their professional goals. It can also help you obtain a more qualified staff.

Of course, you may not feel that your employees all need to earn undergraduate or graduate degrees, and that’s valid. Many university continuing education departments also offer certifications and continuing education credits. Certification programs give employees a credential that they can continue to list on their resumes throughout their careers. Continuing education programs issue attendees credits that you can use to track their progress.

Continuing Education 2Work With an HR Training Professional

University programs are great for a variety of corporate training needs, but maybe you want an HR training program that’s tailored to your company’s needs and your employees’ areas of expertise. If so, it’s time to consider working with a training and certification professional.

Training and certification professionals can help your employees develop the professional skills they need to advance in their own careers, including teaching them the methodology and vocabulary they need to get ahead in a specialized field, like project management, for example. These programs are usually tailored to suit the needs of mid-career adults; they’re affordable and classes are administered online, on the weekends, or in the evenings.

These kinds of training and certification programs also provide employees with credentials they can carry forward in perpetuity, so an investment in training and certification programs is an investment in your employees that shows your loyalty to them and inspires their loyalty to you.

These days, it’s more important than ever for workers to keep their skills up to date, and to continue adapting and learning throughout their careers. If you want to attract and retain the best employees, you’ll offer your workers the continuing education and professional development opportunities they crave.

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