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How to convince your company to sponsor your studies

BY: Brigitte Schwartz|26 February 2019
BLOG| Deciding to study online

The global focus on employee development means now could be an opportune time to ask your company to fund your online studies. With competition for scarce skills rife and many employers using training and development as a ‘carrot’ to attract and retain high-performing talent, this might be your moment.

Read more about how to upskill and reskill yourself to remain an employable asset

The Deloitte Human Capital Trends research shows 83% of companies rate digital learning as important, with 54% calling it ‘urgent’. Additionally, the Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board survey shows 49% of Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) expect their training budget to increase in the next 12 to 18 months, and 47% predict a significant increase in learning strategy spending.

 

This is indicative that learning and development training budgets will probably grow year-on-year, especially if HR is an equal player at the boardroom table, giving strategic input to the company goals. One of the challenges for companies is putting clear objectives in place to show the return on learning (ROL). ROL can be difficult to measure, and often there’s a time lag between learning and impact. That’s why it’s vital to put ROL metrics in place, every three months for up to a year, to see the difference in an individual’s output and growth.

 

If you’re planning to ask your company to fund your studies, you’re going to need to be aware of the ROL expectations and KPIs (key performance indicators) you need to meet. However, to get to that point, you first need to convince HR to sponsor your development… here are six ways to do so.

 

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1. WIIFM (What’s in it for me)

In this case, the “me” is “your company”. The first thing any line manager or HR person wants to know is how is this training going to benefit the company. Be sure to align the outcomes of the course with your personal KPA (key performance area) objectives, and with your company’s overarching objectives. Share how the skills will improve your productivity by pointing out how your new-found capabilities could bridge skill gaps in the business and solve key challenges. Reassure HR that you’ll do all your case studies / assignments on the business and regularly give feedback after assessments.

2. Do your homework and go in prepared

Prepare a spreadsheet or a document showing the comparison of the course you want to do with a few others and highlight the advantages. With SGI, you can say there are six starts in a year (so you don’t have to wait), it is probably more affordable, it is online, all the costs are included, you don’t have to travel, there is no time out the office, it’s a reputable brand and the skills are practical for a work-ready environment, which means you can implement them the next day in the office.

Articles to aid your preparation include reasons to study online, the practicality of online, online as a smart life choice and costs comparison

3. Proactively plan around deadlines

Share with your boss when assignment dates may overlap with work deadlines and when you will be stretched or need some thinking time for your course. Be proactive and have a backup plan for how you will manage the workload during these times.

4. Make business connections

You will be marketing your company brand to a virtual classroom of likeminded individuals. This is the perfect opportunity to network on the platforms, to make business connections, find new solutions, and crowdsource ideas. Make it a conscious effort to revert to your boss who else was on the course with you and their prospective value for your company.

5. Happy staff cuts recruitment in half

Quote from HBR: “Companies won’t train workers because they might leave, and workers leave because they don’t get training.” By offering promising young managers a more balanced menu of development opportunities, employers might boost their employees’ inclination to stick around. In exchange for sponsored study, you’ll probably need to sign a contract saying you won’t leave the business for a stipulated period – and will pay back the cost of the course if you do. That way, sponsoring you makes business sense for your company.

6. Pre-empt for next year and get it in the budget

Every company goes through a budgeting cycle annually. Find out when this cycle is and be prepared with what you want to study next year and how much it costs. You’ll need to prepare the motivation now for next year, to fit with the budget cycle. Once it is in the budget, half the battle is won already!

 

Empathy and other soft skills are skills that AI cannot mimic and will be even more in demand in the future. As an employee, accruing these skills makes you an invaluable asset to your business – especially if you can use the capabilities straight away to make a real impact.

 

SGI offers a selection of online business and management courses aimed to upskill employees to immediately accrue the capabilities required to bridge critical skill gaps in their respective companies. View our full range of courses at SGI.co.za/courses.

 

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