Investing in staff and their development should be high on the agenda for most organisations – by showing confidence in you and your progression they can ensure a more focused and content workforce.
And for you, job satisfaction is really important, so if there is a skill or area of knowledge you want to develop make sure you take the opportunity to advance your learning and utilise your company’s learning and development (L & D) resources.
What kind of courses should I be looking for?
L & D budgets aren’t endless so make sure you look for courses that are relevant to your current role and ideally have the potential to improve your performance. If you’re looking to develop a skill that someone in your team or wider organisation already excels in, they might not see the advantage of paying for an external course when the knowledge could be passed on internally.
And think about the commitment level not just from you but from your organisation. It might not just be funding that will impact them, but you might require time away from work for studying, exams or face-to-face learning. All of this will be weighed against the potential for business growth.
Take a look at Hotcourses or Reed for a variety of courses.
Although it’s important to think about what you can offer the organisation in return for their investment, and they may even require a contractual commitment from you, this is first and foremost about you. Acquiring more skills and furthering your knowledge are key to your progression not just in your current role, but your future career.
Writing a successful business case
The best way to get your employer to invest is to write a business case, similar to how you would vie for support for internal resources – make a case as to why they should invest in you. Before preparing your business case, consider the following:
- Establish who will be involved in the decision-making process and understand your company’s sign-off process (including the timescales involved).
- Identify your company’s current business needs. How can they be addressed through your studies? How will you contribute to the company’s success?
- Prepare a personal development plan to show how it will benefit not just the company but also your own personal development.
- Demonstrate your personal commitment. Have you considered how much time you can realistically commit to your studies each week? Show that you have carefully thought through these issues and have a plan to address them.
- Find out what your company’s policy is with regard to educational support. Has the organisation supported its employees through study in the past? Will the company allow you time to attend examinations?
- Identify a person of senior status to support you. Is this your line manager?
Read our full guidance on writing a business case.
In thinking through all of the above, try to consider any objections you might encounter and then responses to those objections…
…Be ready with a compromise
Think about the most that you want – it might be a 3 year Masters course, it might be a week long conference abroad – now think about something that will help with your development but maybe isn’t as expensive or doesn’t take as much time. If they say no to your original proposal having a back up ready shows you are willing to compromise but still means you are improving your knowledge.
You don’t necessarily need your company
If you can’t get funding through your employer or you’re looking at doing a qualification that is unrelated to your current role, there are still plenty of funding options out there:
- Loans – You may be eligible for a Postgraduate government loan or a Professional & Career Development loan.
- Monthly payments – why not speak with the course provider to see if they offer a flexible payment scheme to make it more affordable i.e. paying per month as opposed to per term.
- Short courses – You might not necessarily need a lengthy or expensive course to upskill, take a look at shorter courses that are more suited to your budget.
- Free courses – there are so many webinars and conferences that are free attend. Although they aren’t formal qualifications, they still show commitment to furthering your knowledge.