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Why tuition assistance should be used for workforce development
3 things the Learning & Development department can do to maximize TA benefits

Even if tuition assistance doesn’t fall in the L&D arena, there are important reasons to tap into this funding source for employee development.

First and foremost, lifelong learning is now a mandate. With the scale of change in needed work-place skills, it’s simply insufficient to assume that everything you learn in your twenties will serve you for your career. As Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist puts it, we have arrived at the Age of Accelerations. “The single dose of education stockpiled in our twenties will barely last into our thirties. And the 40-year career arc is stretching to 50 or more years as we live longer, healthier, and more engaged lives.”

Further, it’s likely your employees know this. That’s why development opportunities are seen as the most popular non-cash benefit – especially among millennials.

Your company needs to commit to lifelong learn-ing. Your employees expect it. Tuition Assistance can play a valuable role in meeting these needs.

How to make Tuition Assistance work for everyone

The simple truth is that not all tuition assistance programs work well for workforce development – and few universities truly partner with you to meet your workforce development needs. Here are 3 tips to consider:

As a seasoned Chief Learning Officer commented recently, “TA is just table stakes.” In other words, just having TA on a list of potential benefits is not enough. Make it available to as many as possible and let them know it exists. In our experience, when you do this, you will be surprised at who steps up.

Have skills or knowledge gaps you’re trying to fill. Chances are you can’t hire enough to fill the gaps. When you associate learning programs with real career growth needs, employees get engaged, commit to the learning and by exten-sion, commit to the company. In our experience, employee engagement goes up exponentially when they see how they can employ what they learn to their current or next job.

Of course, this is where it helps to work with a university that is flexible enough and knowl-edgeable enough to create learning programs that meet your knowledge and skills needs and know how to work with working adults. Not all do this.

But when you can deploy TA toward addressing needed corporate skills and knowledge, you get more bang for your TA buck – and the C-Suite will be impressed.

Company having meeting in office


Even when your employees want new skills and knowledge, you will find that many also want degrees. Earning a degree as a working adult is very different than as an 18-year-old. How do you know if a university understands working adults? There are several clues:
  1. Are adult learning programs relegated to the Continuing Education department? If so, it’s a good indication that adult learners are seen as secondary to traditional college students.
  2. Are their degree programs career-relevant – and updated with changes in those careers?
  3. Do they have a history of serving adult learners of more than 20 years?
  4. Do they embrace Prior Learning Assessment? Adults bring significant experience and prior learning to their degree programs. Adult-serving universities understand how to assess this learning for college credit that can apply to a degree. Prior learning may include previous college credits, corporate training, professional certifications, for-credit exams – even professional experience. Universities who don’t embrace Prior Learning Assess-ment can make your employees spend needless time and money (including your TA dollars) taking classes they don’t really need.
  5. Do they understand the needs of corpora-tions today? Are they already working with other corporations to create and support their learning and development needs?
Free white paper: How to Build a Best-in-Class Education Benefits Program

As the university selected to work with some of America’s largest talent-forward companies, we’ve learned a thing or two about what works to make Education Benefits valuable for both the company and the employee. We want to share that knowl-edge with you.

The white paper includes five valuable takeaways that can give your education benefits program the cache needed to truly perform as it should. If your education benefit program goals include talent attraction, retention and development, you will find this white paper helpful.

Download the White Paper at corporatelearning.com/ed-benefits-wp

A non-profit university, Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

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The Corporate Learning Solutions division of Bellevue University works with corporations and other enterprises to support the productivity and competitiveness of their companies by increasing skills, knowledge and talents of workforces. Corporate Learning Solutions has been working with corporations for more than 25 years and has pioneered a wide range of innovative solutions to human capital development.

These include the Human Capital Lab™ the nation’s first think tank to measure the impact of learning on Key Performance Indicators, custom learning programs that address specific skills and knowledge gaps, and Skill Accelerator™ boot camps.

CorporateLearning.com • 877-824-5516