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6 Strategies for Workforce Continuing Education: Economical Techniques that Benefit Employees and Employers Alike

A recession decreases available funds for employee training causing companies to make difficult choices for everyone affected. This is especially challenging for employees caught in the grind of their employer cutting services as they search for ways to become more efficient. One of these efficiency cutting measures is typically a reduction in operating costs, which often translates to a decrease in workforce education funds.

Employees must remain current in the latest career practices, strategies, and techniques for a company to increase its financial bottom line. This causes human resources personnel to seek ways to meet their company’s mandate of well educated and better trained employees with even fewer financial resources during a recession.

Workforce Continuing Education Strategies

Frequently workforce education strategies originate from employee focus groups that are typically aware of the knowledge they need to improve their productivity. Employees who have the opportunity to participate in workforce continuing education opportunities are less likely to quit or become dissatisfied with working conditions.

The following six strategies are derived from representative focus groups designed to conserve financial resources and increase efficiency in workforce education.

  1. Hold brown-bag lunch events for all levels of employees. Experts in specific areas of production, sales, management, technology, training, and other areas provide in-house education for employees. All employees benefit from these resident experts as they develop valuable knowledge and efficiencies within the company.
  2. Encourage employees to join professional, civic, and other related local organizations related to career field. These organizations provide employees with the latest information, strategies, and techniques for improving productivity and efficiencies.
  3. Provide employees with paid time off to attend off-site continuing education training programs related to the career field. This time off creates more production and knowledgeable employees to who are more efficient, allowing them to participate in education events only offered during the work day.
  4. Offer flex-time to accommodate employees’ attendance in courses that are not offered online, nights, or weekends. Flex-time is typically offered for a variety of other reasons to employees and this strategy encourages more employees to consider continuing education.
  5. Encourage enrollment in online education experiences, which are now available for anyone with access to the internet. Allow employees who do not have the required technology or access to the internet to use company resources. Instead of disposing of old computers when new equipment is installed, allow the employees to use the equipment for workforce continuing education.
  6. Offering tuition reimbursement to employees who exceed work goals or complete specific education requirements on their own. This strategy rewards the self-starting and self-motivated employee, whose own goals will benefit the company.

Benefits for Employees with Workforce Education

Employees take advantage of all the knowledge and learning tools available to them through company, off-site, and online education resources. They accumulate a new understanding of the best practices and techniques in fulfilling their employment obligations.

Provide concrete incentives and rewards for participation in these continuing education activities such as brown-bag lunch presentations, linking promotion and bonuses to participation, membership in key focus groups within the company, and recognition in company newsletters or events.

Benefits for Employers with Workforce Education

For a fraction of the cost involved to develop and deliver employee education in the traditional fashion, companies can lead them to self-directed learning that will meet both parties' needs. Employees become more efficient in support of company operations, when offered the opportunity for this type of learning.

Investing in employee education time by offering education opportunities, pays off in the long run by a reduction in operating costs. One example is a decrease in employee turnover. Accountability is obtained through certifications of completion, diplomas, or earning continuing education units. These documents are recorded in the employee's personnel file for employee reward considerations.

Making Connections with Continuing Education for Employees

Employees tend to be much more loyal to companies who support their continuing education efforts. This loyalty is returned in extra effort necessary to see a job well done or completed on time, maybe even earlier than scheduled. Satisfied employees often lead to creativity and innovation on the job, increased company image because of type and quality of products, and employees more willing to adopt new technologies or methods.

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