While humans won’t ever be completely replaced by machines, technology will definitely take over more responsibilities in the workplace. The OECD estimates that 1.1 billion jobs will be “radically transformed” by technology in the next decade, and the World Economic Forum reports that the time spent by humans and machines on work tasks will be equal in 2025.
If workers don’t want to be replaced by technology, they have to keep learning new skills—including how to use tech to their advantage. Those who lack specialized skills risk falling behind—it’s estimated that 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025—and society will be more polarized unless businesses play a more active role in upskilling.
Upskilling: More pros than cons
Training can be costly, both in terms of time and resources. This alone makes a lot of businesses hesitant to invest in employee training and development, especially when they’re prioritizing a department you don’t belong to. There are also other valid concerns: employees who underwent training programs may use it to seek better opportunities elsewhere; the skills taught might no longer be relevant given the speed of innovation, especially in tech.
But these advantages outweigh the cons:
- Improved Performance: When employees participate in training programs, they learn new knowledge and skills that will either empower them to deliver better results or accomplish their tasks more efficiently.
- Adaptability: In today’s rapidly changing business environment, companies need employees who can pick things up just as quickly. Upskilling helps employees stay current in their field, allowing their companies to more effectively adapt to changes in the workplace.
- Innovation: Employees usually emerge from a good training program empowered and eager to apply what they’ve learned, and it’s this mindset that leads to new ideas and new ways of doing things. This is the kind of go-getter attitude employers need to foster.
- Employee Retention: People want to find meaning in their work: in their responsibilities, in the way they are managed; in their place in their team. When employees see that their company is investing in their development, they are more likely to feel valued and satisfied, improving the retention rate. After all, why would they leave when they’re already in a company that looks out for them?
- Cost Savings: When employees are more skilled, they are less likely to make mistakes or require as much supervision, reducing costs associated with errors and inefficiencies. The initial cost of training may be expensive, but it’s an investment that definitely pays off in the long run.
So How Can You Convince Your Employer to Pay for Your Training?
Cost is usually the main deterrent when it comes to employee training and development. The good news is that a lot of employers do have funds for professional development, but budget disbursement is usually subject to approval.
It can be daunting to ask your boss if you could use your allocation for an online course you like or a book you want to read—but just because it can be a bit challenging, doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
A verbal conversation with your boss or your HR manager will help you gauge how receptive your boss and your company would be to your request. Mention that you’re thinking of enrolling in a training program that could benefit you in your role, and casually ask if the company has the budget for employee development. If their response is encouraging, formalize your request via email and make a strong case for yourself.
Here’s how to ask your employer to pay for your training:
- Research: Do some research on the training you want to undertake and how it will benefit you and the company. Look for data or case studies that demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) of the training, and get ready to present this to your employer.
- Highlight the benefits: First, explain your professional goals and how the training will help you achieve them. Be specific about the skills you will gain and how they will be useful in your current role or future career progression.
Next, emphasize how your improved skills will benefit the company. Your new skills might allow you to take on new responsibilities or projects, improve your productivity or efficiency, or drive more revenue to the company. Create a plan for how you will apply what you will learn during the training to your work and how you will measure the impact.
- Show the costs: Present the costs of the training program and explain how the investment will be worth it in the long run. If the training is expensive, consider proposing a plan to share the cost, such as splitting the cost between the company and yourself. You can also explore options for installment plans and (but only as a last resort) salary deductions or employment bonds.
- Prove yourself worthy: Finally, explain why you are the perfect candidate for the training you wish to do. Highlight your achievements, your commitment to your job and your company, and your willingness to take on new challenges. Use data to your advantage: Quantify your accomplishments and current output, and give them a projection of how much you can improve by doing the training.
By following these steps, you can make a convincing case to your employer and increase your chances of getting support for your personal development training.
TLDR: Just Give It A Try
it can be awkward to ask your employer to pay for something, but it might also surprise you just how easy it is to get funds to cover the cost of professional development. In most cases, you just need to take the first step — put yourself out there and ask for support. You might get the funding, or maybe not—But your willingness to learn new skills and your initiative to seek out the opportunity surely won’t go unnoticed.