Returning to study mid-career is an opportunity to refresh your knowledge and gain practical high-level skills you can apply immediately in your chosen career.
During a time where lifelong learning is becoming increasingly important, employers are increasingly supporting employees who wish to study while they work.
With a greater appreciation for lifelong learning in the workforce, it’s worth finding out what support your employer can provide to assist with your study. In many cases an education assistance policy is a worthwhile starting point.
Education assistance plans
If you’re considering a return to study, it’s worth checking first if your employer already has an education assistance policy in place. In larger organisations you should be able to find information about the specific policy – sometimes called an Education Assistance Plan (EAP) – on the staff intranet system.
Generally speaking, an EAP will include information about what sponsorship and support is available, and under what circumstances an employee is encouraged to apply for this support. Contacting the human resources department in your organisation is also a worthwhile step to take when you’re considering further study.
In a smaller organisation, your best bet is to speak to your employer directly. It certainly doesn’t hurt to raise the question and build a greater understanding of what support your employer would be able to offer, financial or otherwise.
Employer-funded financial support
Many organisations with an EAP will award partial or full scholarships to employees who wish to further their study and develop skills that will be directly relevant to their role.
To attain financial support like this, it’s important to present a strong business case to your employer. You’ll need to demonstrate exactly how the skills you will acquire will benefit the organisation and contribute to the organisation’s goals.
This could take the form of a formal written proposal that outlines specific course learning outcomes, the skills you will develop, and how these skills can be applied in your specific role. In addition to course information available online, another good idea is to speak directly to a course consultant, who will be able to talk you through course details and specific learning outcomes.
If you can demonstrate in a written proposal how newly-acquired skills will align with organisational goals within the context of your current and future roles, you will have made a strong business case for your employer to consider supporting your education.
Additional ways employers can support staff
Not all support is financial. You can also ask your employer how they can help you succeed with flexible work arrangements. Returning to study mid-career is an important commitment, so additional support in the form of flexible working arrangements can go a long way.
Whether that means changing your hours and building up time-in-lieu for a focused revision day before an exam, or something more significant like reducing the days you work from full to part-time, a considerate employer will be receptive to your needs.
Many employers will also consider offering staff paid study leave, usually at a rate of one paid day of leave per unit studied.
One of the great benefits of online study is that it’s a flexible study mode, so you can adjust your schedule to accommodate your work and other commitments, and decide between full and part-time study options.
Approaching your boss with a request for study support
Floating the idea of returning to study doesn’t have to be daunting. The most important thing is to present a strong business case that demonstrates how your career goals and the professional trajectory you see yourself on are closely aligned with the organisation you work for.
Employers benefit when supporting an employee to refresh their knowledge and skills with further study, particularly if the employee can integrate their newly-acquired skills into their professional role.
It’s a superb way for employers to foster staff loyalty, making an employee feel that their skills and career aspirations are valued, while demonstrating the employer’s commitment to providing staff with development and training opportunities.
Study with QUT Online is ideal for mid-career professionals seeking to learn new skills or chart a new career course. Upskill today while you continue to work, and have a conversation with your current employer to see if they can provide any study support.
Explore our range of online postgraduate courses today. Speak to a course consultant today on 1300 104 196 or book a call at a time that suits you.