Tuition Assistance Benefits Employers and Employees

Predicted worker shortages, current employees and company strategic plans are all intertwined and impact business stability, growth and development. This makes developing and maintaining a qualified workforce a top priority for businesses. A Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce report predicts:

• 55 million jobs will become available by 2020
• 31 million baby boomers will retire in the next six years
• 24 million additional new jobs will be created as the economy recovers
• a shortage of 5 million workers with higher education

These numbers create a sense of urgency. Businesses must meet the challenges of continued economic growth and the oncoming worker shortage with a strategic plan. Generating a dynamic workforce from within is a practical solution. Offering tuition benefits to workers is the key to a qualified workforce.

Recruit the right people. Offering tuition benefits will attract employees who seek opportunities for growth and are willing to accept a challenge. These employees will bring those same attitudes and attributes to a job and the company they work for. They tend to be people who will be flexible in their thinking and look for opportunities and solutions to problems rather than always settling for standard practices.

Bridge the knowledge gap. A major element of the baby boomer retirements is not just the number of vacant positions. It is the knowledge gap created by the knowledgeable, trained workers leaving positions. Use this opportunity to retrain your employees and fill positions from within. Offering tuition benefits will help you educate, train and develop your workforce with personnel you have already invested in.

Retain key employees. Numerous studies have shown that the majority of employees who utilize tuition benefits are more engaged in their work and committed to their employers. When a company invests in employees and gives them opportunities, employee loyalty increases. Training new employees is expensive from the interview to the time it takes to get employees up to full speed. Retaining and retraining employees is a sound investment.

Raise employee morale. When tuition assistance programs increase retention and loyalty employers will see a positive return on their investment. When employees see opportunities for growth, they are satisfied and morale is high. A satisfied work force is more productive and that brings a positive ROI in terms of personnel and productivity.

Tuition assistance was the topic of a recent survey from the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the Greater Washington Board of Trade and four local community colleges. Survey results showed that 74 percent of companies in the Washington D.C. area offer tuition benefits to their employees and 25 percent had increased their tuition benefits budget.

The study also showed that many companies could realize an even greater advantage with tuition benefits since about a third of the companies don’t use all the resources they have budgeted for this benefit. Untapped tuition assistance resources results in employee resources that also won’t reach maximum potential. “I think the overarching theme of this study is that for companies that want to grow from within, tuition assistance programs are a remarkably valuable tool; they just need to be better utilized within the company,” said James C. Dinegar, president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/are-tuition-assistance-programs-being-used-to-best-advantage/2012/10/05/e8716818-01e0-11e2-b260-32f4a8db9b7e_story.html)

A strategic plan that aligns tuition assistance programs with company growth and goals is beneficial to both employer and employee. Offering training to current employees signals opportunity for growth in a company. Employees who are seeking advancement in their current positions or a move to a new position can achieve personal goals with their current employers. Employers have a ready supply of employees to fill the knowledge gap within their own organizations.