By Andréa Backman, president of Strayer University
In a recent workforce survey, 78% of respondents said they are happy at their current job, yet 39% of workers who indicate being generally happy at their current job say they are actively looking for new job opportunities.
Workforce surveys from the last two years found that working women are more likely to say they are actively looking and that they feel undervalued by their employers. Last year we conducted a survey that examined the exodus of women from the workforce following the pandemic, which found that 54% of working women were spending five hours a day browsing the internet for a new job. And our latest workforce survey found that women are more likely to say they don’t feel valued by their employer.
As an employee in this competitive labor market, now is the time to set a career goal and ask your employer to support it. Continuing your education can help you achieve the change you are looking for — even if you choose to stay at your current employer.
Take advantage of tuition benefits
More and more employers may consider ramping up benefits to attract and retain talent in this competitive job market. This includes tuition benefits — or employer-sponsored education — in which an employer offers to pay for or subsidize an employee’s education.
Taking advantage of this benefit may help you advance in your career, stand out among your colleagues, and feel more inspired at work. In fact, the recent workforce survey found that tuition benefits make employees feel more valued.
Respondents said that education benefits allow them to add more value to their current employers, their industry, and themselves. Specifically, 83% believe employers should be investing in employees’ continued education.
There is a sense among employees that education can help them advance their career and earn more money. Forty-four percent of respondents say they must continue their education to remain competitive in the modern workforce, and 34% say they must continue their education to earn a promotion. If they were to continue their education, more than half say they would want to continue their education to earn more money.
You may need more than tuition
Of course, it takes more than tuition to earn a degree or a credential. If you are a working parent, for example, you may be wondering how you could possibly find the time. In fact, in the 2021 workforce survey, two-thirds of working mothers agreed with the statement, “I feel overwhelmed during the pandemic, battling a front at home and at work.”
Employees are much more likely to take advantage of education benefits if they’re paid up-front by an employer and are given time off or flexibility to pursue their education. Seventy-four percent of respondents said they would use an employer-sponsored tuition benefits program if they had the flexibility to choose what to study and which school to attend.
And not surprisingly, 75% of respondents say they would be more likely to use an employer-sponsored tuition benefits program if their employer paid the tuition upfront rather than reimbursement of the costs to continue their education. Bottom line: If getting an education is important to you to advance your career, ask your employer for the time and flexibility you need.
Choose an education program that is right for you
When deciding to pursue an education program on top of a busy work schedule, there are several factors you could consider. First, decide what will help you achieve your goal: Do you need a specific degree? Or would a certain credential further your career? What type of program is most achievable, and where will you get the most support?
Look for an online program with flexibility if you plan to work full-time while earning a degree or credential, and if you have prior work or learning experience, research whether you are eligible for credit for prior learning. This can give you a head start and make it quicker to get to the finish line.
If you decide on online or hybrid learning, seek out an education provider that uses innovative technology to keep busy, working adult students engaged.
Today’s job market, coupled with more flexible, accessible, and attainable education options for working adults, could mean the time is right to further your education. Take advantage of this time to examine your career goals and work with your current or potential employer to map out a plan and achieve them. Education benefits can yield tremendous long-term value. Don’t leave them on the table.
This post was created by Strategic Education, Inc. with Insider Studios.