How to approach your employer for education funding

Guest post by Claudia DoRego for Planswell.

Professional development can be a huge springboard in your career.  From formal learning through courses, internships and apprenticeships,  to informal learning, which includes networking and attending seminars, everyone can benefit from professional education and development.

How you choose to move forward in your professional development depends on your personal career goals, your preferred style of learning and, of course, how much you’re looking to spend. However, even if your budget is on the lower end of the spectrum, there are smart ways you can pay for your professional development. From the Canada Training Credit to approaching your current employer about grants or private funding, keep reading to learn about how to deepen your knowledge without breaking the bank.

The Canada Training Benefit

The Canada Training Benefit (CTB) was introduced in the 2019 federal budget. Its purpose is to provide financial assistance and support to Canadians with the cost of training and re-training throughout their time in the workforce.

The CTB has two parts. First is the Canada Training Credit (CTC), whose purpose is to help Canadians with the cost of training fees. If you’re between the ages of 25 and 64, you are eligible to accumulate a credit balance at a rate of $250 per year, up to a lifetime limit of $5,000. This credit can be used to refund up to half the costs of taking a course or enrolling yourself in a training program. You would find your credit balance in the information the Canadian Revenue Agency sends you each year.

The second part of the CTB is the Employment Insurance Training Support Benefit (EITSB), which would provide you with up to four weeks of income support through Employment Insurance (EI). The purpose of the EITSB is to help Canadians on training leave who are not receiving a paycheque. Keep in mind that this benefit is not expected to launch until late 2020.

How to approach your employer

If you’re interested in moving forward with either of the above courses of action — or you’re preparing to ask your employer for training support through other programs, like the Canada Job Grant — here’s what your next steps would be:

Ask your employer for assistance

The importance of continued professional development is a massive shift in employer’s mindsets that has occurred in recent years. Companies realize that when they invest in their employees, there is a direct impact on productivity, employee retention, as well as morale. However, some companies still lag behind when it comes to promoting professional development within their ranks – leaving employees to initiate the conversation.

If you’ve found yourself in this position, don’t fret. Although professional development is ultimately about you and your career, when asking your employer for support, you should frame it as contributing to the greater good of the business. So how can you do that?

Investigate your company’s guidelines

Are there existing policies on employee training? Every business is different, but it’s important you know what you’re working with.

Build your case

It’s time to put together your pitch. This includes:

Information on the training

Ensure you know the cost, duration and deadline for registration. If there are travel costs, estimate hotel and transportation expenses beforehand. Use your discretion whether you’d like these costs to be reimbursed or perhaps offer to cover them as a part of your pitch.

Focus on your company’s bottom line 

Move as far away from the spotlight as you can.  Leadership may worry about the negative implications of approving your request. There is a risk of you possibly resigning, or perhaps higher management will not support the expense. Possible benefits you can refer to in your case are:

  • Filling critical skills gaps within your firm
  • Finishing tasks faster
  • Passing on new skills to your team
  • Accepting more responsibility
  • Staying current with industry trends
  • Being able to recruit new talent
  • Building new connections within your industry that generate new leads for the business

Provide options

Not every business can send you somewhere that isn’t local. Be sure to provide some options to your supervisor so that you can give them some wiggle room. We recommend a three-tiered cost breakdown, which includes a low, middle and high-priced option. For example, one option could consist of enrolling in an online seminar or conference while another might cover the cost of a bootcamp.

Show your worth

It’s important that you emphasize that investing in you as an employee proves that you’re a valuable asset to the company. Ensure you are meeting all performance metrics, are on time to meetings and overall showing your worth to higher management. Avoiding actions that may delay or deny approval is key to your success.

Start the conversation with your boss

After you’ve done your research, send your boss an email and set up a meeting to discuss your professional development opportunities. Prepare yourself for the possibility of them saying no, and be ready to work with a “maybe.” Of course, you know how to read your managers and colleagues best. If your manager does not seem interested in your request, you may have to take a step back. If needed, re-evaluate your request and consider the other ways you can learn without costing the company money.

Next steps

Ongoing professional development and training is a crucial part of achieving career success. Workshops, classes, conferences, online seminars, and other programs and experiences can dramatically improve your skills and capabilities. That’s true whether you’re looking to deepen your knowledge in a specific area to increase your earning potential or your industry is evolving and you need to stay up to date with the latest trends. You may even be interested in shifting your career in an entirely different direction and require new skills and qualifications.

No matter the case, you should begin the process of building a professional development plan. Whether you qualify for government assistance, your employer has agreed to cover the costs, or you’re investing the money yourself, taking this kind of initiative demonstrates your dedication to bettering yourself.

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