They may take some convincing, but if postgraduate study or further training is the key to improving your performance at work your employer may be prepared to foot the bill
What postgraduate courses will employers sponsor?
You're most likely to receive sponsorship from your employer if the course you're hoping to study is relevant to your current job and benefits the company in some way. This may be to learn new skills, or as part of continuing professional development (CPD). Employers sponsor CPD courses for their employers to progress into more senior positions, or to keep up-to-date in fast-moving professions.
A postgraduate qualification is a necessary requirement to build a career in some industries. Teachers will be familiar with the Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE), while solicitors will sit the Legal Practice Course (LPC) as part of their training. Architects, social workers and librarians are among the job roles where employer sponsorship is common.
Even if you're entering a profession where a qualification is a necessity, you'll still need to convince your employer that sponsoring you is worth their money and your time. Often, your hours and workload will be rearranged to fit around your studies, so it's not a decision to be taken lightly.
How can I persuade my employer to sponsor me?
While most graduate employers view any kind of professional development favourably, securing financial support can be difficult if your employer doesn't promote their own funding programmes. This is the case for a lot of smaller companies.
If your employer doesn't have a funding programme in place, you'll need to approach your HR department or management with a proposal. This should serve as evidence of why sponsoring your studies or training will be a valuable move for them.
If you're seeking sponsorship to train for entry into a specific career, the focus of your proposal should be on you. What makes you different to everyone else applying? Try to answer the following questions within your proposal:
- What unique skills or attributes can you bring to the role?
- What steps have you taken to prepare for the opportunity?
- What are your future goals? How do they align with your employer's?
This last question is particularly important, as it gives you the chance to demonstrate your commitment to your employer. If you can show you see a future for yourself with an employer they'll be more likely to want to sponsor you.
If your sponsorship will pay for CPD study, your proposal should instead focus on what the study will bring to your role and the company. Your employer has already hired you and should know you well - there's no need to sell yourself. Talk about the practical benefits of your training.
- Will the training help your employer gain an advantage over competitors?
- If you've agreed a promotion into a senior role, how will the CPD training best equip you?
- Are there aspects of your job that this training will bring you up-to-date with?
Talking in detail about the modules on your course and how you'll apply them to specific aspects of your job will prove that you've given the proposal serious consideration.
What terms and conditions will there be?
Your employer is unlikely to sponsor you without expecting anything in return. Because of this, you may be asked to sign an agreement that commits you to working for the company for a minimum amount of time once you've received your qualification.
If you aren't taking a study break, you'll also need to discuss how attending lectures and sitting exams will affect your working hours. You may have to take study days as part of your annual leave, although some employers may be more generous than this.
Signing a written agreement before beginning your course will be important to establish how much of your tuition your employer will sponsor as well as the terms of your leave - changes in office hours or study breaks, for instance. If you fail to uphold your end of the contract, you'll likely be held accountable for repaying the money your employers have invested in your sponsorship.
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