Asking your employer to cover the cost of a course can be nerve-wracking.
But as long as you approach it in the right way, there’s no reason to be anxious. Here are our top tips for success…
Do your research
It’s important to find out whether your company is likely to want employees with the qualification you’re looking to achieve. If higher positions within the company typically don’t hold or require the qualification, it could mean that your employer is less likely to fund you.
Check whether your company already has a training scheme or funding allowance. If they do, make sure you read the rules and requirements.
Consider what you want to study, where and why. This will form the foundation of your request and you need to be 100% certain what you want. Make sure it is relevant to your career and will make you a more valuable employee.
Remember to consider the format of the course. Employers are much more likely to fund a part-time qualification that will enable you to continue working, particularly if it’s a long programme.
Form a business case
The decision to fund your studies will be assessed as a business proposition; therefore, you’ll need to form a business case that puts the suggestion to your employer in a well-reasoned and well-formulated way.
Explain the Return On Investment (ROI); this will show your company what they can expect to gain in return for investing in your education. If it’s possible to assign a monetary value to this then that’s even better.
Highlight the benefits for both parties. This might include one or more of the following facts:
- You’ll get a qualification that improves your career prospects.
- Gaining higher education will improve your sense of self-worth and confidence.
- Your employer will gain a more efficient staff member with greater knowledge.
- Education funding is proven to improve employee loyalty and staff retention levels.
- Upskilling and promoting existing staff is often cheaper than employing new people.
Set realistic expectations
Before you take your business case to the decision-makers, it’s important to prepare yourself for all possible eventualities and manage your expectations.
Accept that the process of getting funding could be long and hard. If the proposal you’re making is a new one to your company, then there may not be proper procedures in place.
Be aware that the process may take longer than you expect. It is unlikely that there will be only one stakeholder involved in the decision; therefore, you need to prepare for the request to be circulated and sent up to higher management.
Prepare for rejection. There is always the possibility that, no matter how well-formed your business case is, your employer rejects your request. If this happens, it’s important to understand the reasons for this answer and gauge whether this is a final decision or simply a case of bad timing. This way, you know whether there’s scope to resubmit your proposal at a later date.
Prepare to work hard. Gaining a qualification is time-consuming and intellectually demanding. Make sure you have the dedication required to see the course through to the end.
Talk to the decision-maker
Schedule a meeting with your manager or team leader; make sure this is an official meeting instead of a casual catchup. Not only will this let your boss know that you’re serious about wanting to train, it will give them enough time to consider the request properly.
Once you have a meeting booked in, practise what you’re going to say. Learn everything you can about your course, be assertive in your delivery and prepare comebacks for your boss’s possible objections.
In your meeting, make all your points clearly and present your proposal in such a way that your employer is able to understand why it is good business sense to fund your study.
Read your contract
If your company agrees to your request, they will probably send you a contract to sign. Make sure you understand what you’re signing. Seek external advice if you need it.
You should also consider the following points:
- Who is paying for the course? Is it partial payment or full payment?
- How is payment made? Do you pay and get reimbursed or does the employer pay the educational institution directly? If it is a reimbursement plan, when does the money enter your account?
- Are you being asked to commit to a longer employment contract with your employer in exchange for the funding? If so, is it a time period that you’re happy with? What happens if you decide to leave the company before your new contract ends?
- Will your employer pay for resources such as books?
- Are you required to maintain and/or achieve a specific grade in order to continue receiving funding?
- What happens if you are unable to complete the programme due to illness, personal issues, a need to relocate etc.?
- If there are exams, contact hours during work time or time needed for assessment writing, will this time be provided by the employer? Or are you expected to take it as leave?
Make education a part of your successful future
University of Essex Online offers a variety of part-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses that are studied 100% online. These include business, marketing, MBA, criminology, law, psychology, public health and infection control.
Call one of our Admission Advisers on +44 (0) 1206 489 358 today to discuss your options or download a prospectus.