If you’re reading this article you are likely already knowledgeable about the importance of continuous learning and skills development. You know that learning new skills and technologies is critical to the success of a career and the sustainability of a business. Awareness of this fact is a great start, but you may have found that the rest of the world – perhaps including your own employer – may not be as in the loop as you are in this respect.
It isn’t always easy to persuade your employer to invest in your skill development and training, but with a little tact and open communication you can set yourself up to make your case and score new developmental opportunities. Below, you’ll find a few tips to get you started.
1. Use what you’ve got:
Don’t make this process harder than it needs to be. If your company already offers avenues for employee skills training, then there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Make sure that, before you approach your boss with your case, you have explored the proper internal channels and have made it known that you would like to be considered for any developmental opportunities that the company currently offers. Take advantage of as many of these opportunities as you can, and if you still think that you need more comprehensive employer-paid training, or if you find these avenues don’t exist yet, continue on to step number two.
2. Build a business case:
The folks who hold the purse strings are seldom very plugged-in to the needs of the average worker. For this reason, you need to be able to speak their language. You shouldn’t expect to make a request that will cost your employer money without being able to show a value-add in return, and they may not readily understand why what you’re requesting is important. Research the skills-training programs your competitors and industry leaders employ, come prepared with some quantitative info on why it pays to invest in this type of employee training, and try to find current or recent projects and skills gaps in which your training could be helpful. All of this will help leaders feel more comfortable about making an investment in your development.
3. Tailor your requests:
In a perfect world, companies would invest in their employees’ training and development no matter what, but the fact of the matter is that employers would go broke if they footed the bill for every request of this nature that they receive. You need to set your expectations appropriately and make sure that what you’re asking to be funded is within reason and relevant to the business. Get specific when you ask about developmental opportunities – find new technologies or skills that you can apply to your business from minute one, not just those which you think will be most beneficial to your career. Be reasonable in your requests for a learning budget and be specific about what you want to accomplish and how it can help the organization.
Armed with this information, making a learning budget request should be much easier. It’s probably not every day that you have cause to build a business case and petition leadership for a budget. For that reason, even the process of asking for employer-paid training is a great developmental opportunity. Don’t become discouraged if you don’t get your budget approved right away. Continue to look for opportunities for your skill development to help the organization and bring it to your employer’s attention once you’ve built your case. Your ambition and acumen won’t go unnoticed, and you may find yourself getting some once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunities out of the deal.