Making the decision to seek continuing education can be significantly simpler if you have a plan to cover some of the financial costs. Knowing how to position your request for support that focuses on the ways your organization or company may benefit from your new knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) is key to getting buy-in and support. Take the time to think through and hone your pitch.
Step 1- Do Your Research
What are your organization’s policies and processes around employee education? Are there any programs in place for learning and training?
What are the main priorities or goals for your organization, and how could increasing employee skills help meet those?
Which professional organizations is your company currently a member?
Who else in your organization is seeking or has completed continuing education? What did they pursue and how did they get support?
You may also want to make notes on the audience you’ll be pitching, so you can frame your request in the most effective way:
Are they generally supportive of funding professional development?
Do they prefer to have everything sent and reviewed by email, discussed verbally, or in a combination?
Do they have the final authority to approve your request or do they need to send it somewhere else?
Step 2- Get Your Pitch in Shape
Develop a strong pitch that clearly articulates your professional development opportunity. Get ready to talk with your manager about what you expect to learn and what skills you will be able to contribute.
What specifically are you asking for?
Where will you be getting your training?
When will this take place?
How will this impact your work and/or career?
Step 3- Frame It as a Company Advantage
By understanding and specifically stating how your professional development learning will make an impact on your organization you provide opportunities for your employer to get on board with your plan. Find ways to connect your personal motivations to the company’s larger goals and priorities.
Some ways that employers benefit-
Employees able to take on additional and more challenging projects
Employees with additional skills to manage more complicated teams and programs
Possibilities for increasing revenue, retention, and morale.
Opportunities for Increasing creativity, productivity, or problem-solving
Solutions to decrease waste and inefficiencies
Step 4- Be prepared for common questions
Will this cut into your work day?
Evening and weekend courses that allow for working professionals to stay productive at work while gaining new skills and knowledge
How does this fit into your current job description and career aspirations?
Be able to draw on comments from your last review and professional development plan.
Good to Know: Employee Benefit Programs
Many employers offer benefits for professional development and/or continuing education. Companies large and small know that there is value in offering education as a perk to attract and retain top talent. Additionally, they can receive federal tax credits and deductions for funding employee education.
There’s a good chance that your employer has some type of employee education assistance, but often folks don’t ask about it. Refresh yourself with the benefits section of your employee handbook. Check with your human resource department to learn more about your options.
Make sure you include a specific program and educational institution. Selecting a well-known education provider with a strong track record of student success (like UW Tacoma) can strengthen your request.
Outline benefits for you. Define what knowledge, skills, and abilities you will be gaining
Outline benefits for the organization and how your continuing education connects to larger goals or priorities.
If you need help, contact one of our Program Managers at firstname.lastname@example.org