6 Steps to securing company funding for your qualification or training
Written by Michael O’Flynn – Sales & Marketing Director – Professional Academy
As a qualification provider, we have spoken to thousands of professionals looking to improve their skills set with a professional qualification from one of the major institutes (CIM, DMI, ISM, CMI), which is fantastic. It shows people have identified a training need and assessed the benefits to them. The enquiry can sometimes grind to a halt when it comes to securing funding from their employer. This is frustrating for us at Professional Academy but more so for the potential student who is looking to start a qualification that will improve their skills and knowledge to either prepare them for a new role or boost their performance in their current role.
With that in mind, we have spoken to a few of the institutes, conducted a fair bit of research and had some conversations with previous students to boil down the process of convincing an employer that a qualification is worth the company’s investment.
Step one – Start the process of training yourself.
This may seem counter intuitive but if you are looking to start a personal and professional development pathway the best thing you can do to get company’s attention is to start this process yourself. Ask for some time to attend a seminar, conference or workshop that links to your role. Show them you have an interest in professional development and sow the seeds for future development by allowing them to see the benefit that these bitesize sessions have for you and your role.
Step two – Do your research and present a business case.
By adding structure to your request for training you increase the likelihood of the training being approved. Cover the key details that your director/manager/HR department need to know: What training opportunities are available to you? Why have you selected your preferred option? What are the benefits to you and to the business? Where and when would the training take place? What are the time commitments? and of course, what are fees?
The CIM suggest making training part of an ongoing conversation:
Training costs money, and those providing the cash need to trust that the money will be well spent. Start by underlining that marketing is a vital driver of growth, and deliver a clear vision of how the training can lead to increased productivity and sales. When a company implicitly believes in the value of marketing, convincing management to spend on training will be easier. Don’t wait until you need the money to start the conversation, bring it up as part of an ongoing dialogue and then be clear about why it is needed now.
PVia crediresenting the full story, instead of just requesting funding out of the blue, will show commitment to the qualification and the justifications for studying the course will allow you to continue the conversation instead of stopping at a simple yes/no question.
Step three – Be reasonable.
Think of a training funding request as the same as any other capital request. If you’ve ever had to fill out a capital request you will know that one of the key areas of showing value is to collect 3-5 quotes for the same or similar products/services. This, once again, reinforces the research and commitment in Step 2 along with increasing the likelihood of one of the options presented being selected. Increasing the options available means one will be more likely to tick the boxes for both yourself and the employer, which makes the decision more inclusive for the person signing off instead of appearing like a one-sided conversation or demand, creating a higher chance of buy-in from your employer.
Step four – Know the takeaways for yourself and your business.
It is useful to list the benefits for yourself when it comes to training, but sometimes a business can be resistant to funding a training course or qualification out of fear. There is a belief in an old cliché held by some employers of “What if I invest in training for this person and they leave?” usually followed by the equally clichéd response “What if you don’t and they stay?”. As I said this is a very tired cliché nowadays but it doesn’t make it less true.
There are a few other truths that it may be worth highlighting to your employer, such as “It is more cost effective to train and retain than it is to hire new staff” but the key element is that the qualifications have been developed to help you to excel in your chosen profession, which is a benefit to both you and your employer. It should help to reassure your employer that this course isn’t your first foot out the door just a pathway to you being able to help the business to succeed.
The CIM have some tips on reassuring your employer that the money is well spent:
Don’t take the money and run. If the funds for training are handed over, report back on what it achieves. In the short term, this could be a ‘show and tell’ – with colleagues and other interested parties – of what you have learned from the training. In the longer term, seek to demonstrate how new skills or knowledge are being incorporated into day-to-day work and marketing strategy, and are making a difference.
Step five – Offer to pitch in with the funding.
Most providers are happy to work with you and your company on payment terms. This can work in a few ways: your employer can agree a contribution towards training directly from your monthly pay check; or you can offer to pay for half the qualification yourself, with the company paying the other half. Either way the offer to help once again reaffirms your commitment to the qualification whilst also taking some financial risk away from the company if that is the reassurance they need.
Step six – Persistence is key.
Sometimes your request may not be at the top of the priority list for the person who’s desk it sits on, that is fair enough, people are busy and there may be a lot of other request that cross that desk on a daily basis. The simple fact is that if it is something you want, you have to be the driving force, no one is going to care as much as you about getting sign off (except, the Professional Academy qualifications advisers) so you may need to drop the occasional email, knock on the door from time to time, casually bring it up at the water cooler, make it an agenda point at one to ones. This not only shows your commitment and desire to start your qualification, but may also achieve your desired result by pure attrition alone!
So there we have it, our 6 steps to securing company funding for your qualification. If you would like to chat through any of the steps with our qualification advisers they are available on 01223 365 505, the webchat below or on email via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternativity if these steps have been a success and you are ready to start your qualification you can head to the Professional Academy Store and register to start today!