Whether you’ve been in your current position for a while or are just starting out in a new role, it might be a great time to look into strengthening your skills with a continuing education course or seminar. Yes, that might sound daunting and maybe a little overwhelming, but look at it as an opportunity. Taking this step on your own shows ambition and adaptability—two major strengths every employer is looking for. And that’s just the beginning. Here are just a few more reasons why continuing education might be just what you need to get ahead:
Save time and money for everyone
No matter what course or conference you’re looking into, that new skill or program you’re learning is a foolproof way to save your company money. It can be in the traditional sense of reducing costs or budgets, or by simply increasing productivity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve known there was a quicker way to finish a task at work by using a different program, but couldn’t because I had no idea how to use the other program. It’s frustrating, to say the least. But don’t worry, admitting you need to brush up on your skills or learn something new is ok—everyone has to do it at some point.
You’re not getting any younger
Wherever you fall on the generation chart, the brutal truth is that the workforce will continue to get younger, not older. In order to stay ahead of the curve, you’ll need to continue to be relevant. Did you know millennials, who range from 15-32 in age, are the most educated generation in history? Approximately 79% of the millennial generation (also known as Gen Y) has at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 69% for Gen Xers and 62% for Boomers. So the more you stay on top of your game, the better.
Job security is priceless
Learning a new skill or trade within your current role increases your worth as an employee. Think of it as a DIY project for your house: you took the time to learn how to install that awesome new tile in the kitchen and now your kitchen floor couldn’t look better! That small (or not so small) project just added value to your house. If your boss isn’t already aware, that fresh, new skill will help you be quicker and smarter in your role. Once you’ve had the chance to show them what you can do, they’ll know they made the right decision by helping you further your career.
You’re the investment
Imagine that you are the 401k for your company. If your employer is willing to invest in your continued education (much like a 401k), they are taking this risk because they want to see the rewards through your increased productivity or knowledge down the line. If they’re willing to dedicate some of the company’s budget towards continuing your education, that means they see potential in you or trust that you will take this opportunity seriously. Once you’ve completed the training or course, it may also help you get promoted, which helps you move up the ladder and saves your employer even more money by not having to hire an additional headcount.
Not sure if your employer offers continuing education courses or will cover any upfront fees for additional programs? Take the time to research a few pertinent courses or programs for your line of work Lynda.com is a great place to start) and gather the necessary information to take back to your employer or HR Supervisor. Before you walk into their office and surprise them with this pitch, send an email to ask to set up a face-to-face discussion. It is more professional and gives you an opportunity to have healthy dialogue and answer any questions they might have.
Here are a few items to prepare for the conversation:
- Be as specific as possible. Prepare a list of courses or seminars you would like to attend. This shows you’ve done your research and are serious about the opportunity. Make sure to have the specific costs handy, your employer might want them on file or want to discuss them in detail with you. Review the numbers beforehand so you can be ready with any questions or concerns they might have.
- Bring specific examples of how this course or education will improve your day-to-day efficiency. This is the most important point you’ll make. Your employer will need to see how this can benefit the company’s bottom dollar.
- Take note of and mention how this cost could help achieve any long-term company goals.
- Build a specific timeline so your employer can see any key dates for the course or seminar. You don’t want to miss any important registration dates or deliverables.
If you don’t hear back, wait a little bit and try again. When you really want something, you need to go after it with enthusiasm. Now is the time to show your career ambition—don’t let an opportunity pass you by because you weren’t persistent enough.
If you do hear back, regardless of whether your company is able to cover the costs or not, make sure to thank your supervisor or HR representative for taking the time to discuss the matter with you. It’s one more way to show your professionalism and outstanding character. Keeping a stash of personalized stationery at your desk is a fool proof way to express your genuine gratitude:
Need help writing an email to ask your job about continuing your education?
Check out this downloadable guide: