No matter your age or how long you’ve been working, at some point you’re likely to want to up your skillset. In fact, it’s often those who have found themselves doing the same job for years on end who want to either study to change careers or to move into a more senior position. But studying can cost a lot of money and having your company fund it for you is often an ultimate win for both parties.


Deciding what to study can also be tricky

You need to ascertain what your specific career goals are and then find the most suitable course that will see you attaining the correct skillset for the position. For instance, you might be a graphic designer who would like to eventually become a creative director. There’s no course out there that teaches you how to be a creative director but you could look into marketing courses, business management courses or even computer software courses and certifications; all of which will push you closer to your goal.


If you’ve made your mind up and you’ve decided on the course you’d like to study, then you need to set up an appointment with your direct line manager. This is, of course, the first person to chat to. From there you are likely to have to set up a formal meeting with all of your senior management and someone from the human resources department. But you need to make sure that you are prepared. You need to treat this entire process like a pitch. Because you will have to sell the idea to them, ensuring that they feel confident and secure in the fact that you will pour your energy into the course with never ending enthusiasm.


Do proper research

You need to make sure that before you approach any one of your seniors, you do some investigative research. You need to have had a look at various institutions that offer the certification you are after. You must find out the costs for each of them and what is included in their pricing structure. You should have an idea of how beneficial the certificate or qualification will be in the future and have some knowledge of the background of the institution. You should collect all the paraphernalia that is available about each college, university or online school that you are interested in. What’s more, you need to find out about the extras and decide whether the cost of the extras and add-ons will be for your expense or whether you’ll be asking your company to cover it all. For instance, if you are to be attending evening classes, will you be covering the cost of the textbooks and stationery? If you are doing an online course will you be paying for the exam fees or release fees of the certification? There are sneaky expenses that you must bear in mind, such as registration fees and the cost of rewriting an exam should you fail or miss it.


Think about how you see yourself using your new qualification to the benefit of your company

This is most important. Your boss will need answers to all of their questions. And, most of their questions will be around how their investment in your education will positively impact their company. You need a vision. And one that you can impart on your boss. You need to have an idea of how the specific course you have decided on will increase your productivity. Will it encourage you to find new business which will ultimately impact the bottomline? And how will all of this will make you a better resource for the company to make use of? In your preparation for this meeting you must have a career trajectory in mind. One that sees you growing in the company.


Have your own questions

Many companies are very positive about upskilling their staff. But they have their own unique ideas around how to offer this education. This is because there is a tax benefit to having a skills program in place and they will want to make the most of this. So, you shouldn’t get too excited until you know what the parameters are of this agreement. Make sure that while you do all your homework and necessary research, you also have questions lined up. Make sure you enquire about the funding, the academic expectations, whether you will be afforded study leave and time off to write exams and whether your company will require you to remain with them for a specific period of time once you have qualified. Some companies will ask you to sign a contract with them that outlines everything they require from you in order to fund your studies.


Whatever goal you have in mind, you can only ask for your company’s support if it will be beneficial to them too. There’s no point in even starting a conversation if you cannot show your current company how improving on your skillset will aid them in growing and ultimately helping them secure more business. However, if you can convince them that funding your studies will have a positive impact on their business operations, they’re likely to afford you the opportunity you so badly want. Also, most companies are often keen on funding or at least subsidising their employees studies. This exercise can garner increased loyalty throughout the staff as well as increased levels of productivity, and they will land up with employees who can take on new projects more easily and with more know-how. What’s more, the company can rely on the staff having more leadership ability when they have more knowledge.

About The Author

I was born in the Eastern Cape, close to the waves. After getting my degree in Media, Communication and Culture, I knew it was time to make my way to a big city. Not wanting to leave the ocean, Cape Town was the natural choice for me. At first I thought the fast paced world of marketing. But I never forgot that what I'd always wanted to do was write. Now I'm a freelance writer, where my office is my bedroom and my platform is the World Wide Web. I live with my partner and our two beloved Great Danes. When not reading or writing you can probably find me on the beach or exploring nature trails.

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