Cheif Learning Officer Solutions for Enterprise Productivity

Collaborating With Universities to Create a Continuous Learning Culture

Some employers are concerned about footing the bill for degree programs, for fear that employees will leave for higher-paying jobs elsewhere. Employers, however, often benefit as much as workers do. In managing tuition assistance programs for 400,000 eligible workers annually, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) has found that employees invariably choose courses of study that benefit their careers with their current employer. In addition, in an unpublished 2000 CAEL study of employees at a major telecommunications company, we found that tuition benefits had a positive impact on employee retention. Other studies support this finding as well: A 1999 report by Don L. Bohl in the Compensation and Benefits Review noted that human resources professionals rank "training and educational opportunities" as the second most important retention program.

In short, helping your employees gain degrees and credentials is a "win-win" for you, especially if you communicate your business goals to them and they can align their learning with those goals. You benefit from having loyal employees with higher skills, and they are rewarded with degrees or credentials that, at a minimum, give them peace of mind. Should their jobs unexpectedly disappear - as so many jobs do today - they have credentials that will help in both their re-employment and long-term employability.

Shaping the Skills of New Employees
Partnerships with colleges and universities are not just for the benefit of the incumbent workforce. Many employers routinely benefit from these partnerships because they help to develop the skills needed in new recruits.

This is a particularly important consideration for employers facing workforce and skill shortages. In a survey we conducted of employers in Oklahoma, for example, employers reported that there is often a disconnect between the skills that recent college graduates possess and the demands of the labor market. Strong working relationships with colleges and universities can provide an opportunity for employers to communicate their skill needs to the institutions, so that coursework is more likely to develop the skills that employers need.


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