Jennifer Hawkins, Director of Corporate Solutions & Economic Development
As corporate executives spend the month reviewing financial goals and developing metrics for the upcoming quarter, cutting costs and increasing profits are always paramount.
Budget line items like continuing education are most susceptible to cuts, fueled by four common myths about low return on investment. These misconceptions are shortsighted and negatively impact profit.
Myth 1: Once employees complete training, they’ll quit before the ink dries on their diploma.
Research shows the opposite to be true. In the mid-1990s, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed employers and found increased training and education raised productivity more than increased hours worked or capital equipment purchased.
Continuing education plays a role in recruitment too. A 2012 University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School white paper highlighted a case study on Mutual of Omaha. According to the document, company employees who participated in the tuition reimbursement program were twice as likely as non-participants to stay employed with the organization. Educate your employees and they will increase your profits; you also will recruit stronger candidates.
Myth 2: Continuing education curriculum does not fit my employees’ workday.
Colleges and universities are requiring more hours for certifications and degrees, and when considering continuing education, many leaders recall that their time at a four-year institution included electives and other areas of study that were outside their core focus. Many don’t realize customized training is available.
My team has worked with more than 50 companies to develop specialized curricula used to educate and train nearly 2,000 students a year. For example, General Electric Manufacturing Solutions needed to train nearly 300 new employees at the company’s Fort Worth-based manufacturing facility in 2012. In less than a month, TCC developed classes for entry-level machine operators and welders, new and advanced.
Myth 3: The classes are too expensive.
TCC offers customized classes for $200 or less per hour, and works directly with businesses to ensure training meets the company’s needs. Additionally, Tarrant County businesses of any size could be eligible to partner with TCC for one of two grants provided by the Texas Workforce Commission. The Skills for Small Business grant is designed to provide tuition reimbursement for companies with 100 or less employees, and the Skills Development Fund grant provides funding for TCC CSED to deliver customized training for incumbent and newly hired employees. Both of these programs are designed to enable businesses to partner with TCC to increase the skill levels and wages of employees, while adding direct value to the business through increased productivity and quality.
Myth 4: Class times are inconvenient.
TCC CSED works with local businesses to develop training that is affordable, accessible and appropriate for a company’s specific needs. Classes are provided at times convenient for businesses and their employees. Additionally, TCC’s six campuses offer day, evening and weekend credit and noncredit classes and programs available to those who want to further increase their skills for employment.
Myth 5: Our organization’s training needs are too complex and specific for a community college to fulfill.
The team at CSED works directly with companies to identify the specific training gaps and develops customized programs to meet those needs. The department’s trainers are subject matter experts in their respective fields who come from a wide variety of business, technical, manufacturing and management backgrounds. Many hold nationally recognized certifications in their industries and in curriculum development. Examples of past training contracts range from training 400 employees how to refurbish the iPhone before it was released in the United States to training security contractors before being deployed to assignments in Afghanistan. TCC CSED has partnered with major corporations including Lockheed Martin, Halliburton and General Motors to develop and deliver highly specialized training.
Greater productivity, employee retention and enhanced recruitment are only a few of the benefits continuing education provides. And don’t dismiss strengthening a company’s competitive position, the positive impact on a company’s culture and narrowing the gap between entry-level and experienced employees.
C-suite executives should consider TCC before decisions are made to trim or increase budget dollars for continuing education. Leaders may want to overthink the components of continuing education.
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar sums it up in two sentences.
“What’s worse than training your workers and losing them?” he asks. “Not training and keeping them.”
As director of corporate solutions and economic development at Tarrant County College, Jennifer Hawkins, JD, helps local businesses identify and meet their short-term training and education needs. Her department has developed curriculum for employees at General Electric, Bell Helicopter, and General Motors, among others.