The ROI on Employer Education Programs

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Jason Tyszko, Vice President, Center for Education and Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation joined the podcast to talk about creating win-win workforce development partnerships between institutions and employers.
 

Employers could better target and make useof their tuition reimbursement benefits, of which they put out in a mount thatrivals hell on a good year, approximately thirty billion a year. You're listeningto enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for highereducation leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're lookingfor fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come tothe right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect eedu podcast network. I'm Eric Olsonwith Helix Education, and we're here today with Jason Tishco, Vice President ofthe Center for Education and Workforce at the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Jason, welcome to the show. Thank you, good to be here. Really excitedto talk to you today about the ry for employers who prioritize employee educationprograms. But before we dig in, can you give the listeners a littlebackground on the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation and your role there? Absolutely so. I actually work for both the US Chamber of Commerce as well as itsfoundation. So the US Chamber of Commerce is a Washington DC headquartered operation.It is a membership organization. We represent over one fifteen hundred state and localchambers of commerce across the country and collectively over three million firms. That makesus the world's largest business federation and we work on all manner of Education andworkforce policy, representing the business voice in perspective in those conversations. I supportthe membership side, but today I'm here representing the US Chamber Commerce Foundation,which is our nonprofit affiliate which does not have a membership but is more philanthropicallydriven and driven through corporate sponsorships. So a lot of the work we're focusingon with respect to my team is how to elevate the employer leadership and engagementrole in a wide variety of Education and workforce partnerships. So we're working allday long to make sure we have the...

...kind of system alignment we need solearners and workers are able to access the skills, training and credentialing they needin order to advance in their careers and to be part of our labor marketin the American economy. So that's what we do and happy to share withyou some business perspective on this topic. But also what we at the USEmber Commerce Foundation are doing to help facilitate it. Yeah, exactly why Iwas so excited to have you as a guest on this show. Jason,maybe to kick us off today, can you just give us a starting highlevel overview on the value proposition regarding the value for employers who do prioritize employeeeducation programs? Yes, absolutely so. The first thing I want to startwith is just recognition that, you know, the business community has a tremendous amountof skin in the game. The amount of money that employers invest annuallyand both tuition reimbursement as well as in formal and informal training, actually eclipseswhat the federal government provides on an annual basis through its grant and loan programs, and what we are trying to do is to really get our employers tothink much more creatively and differently about how they're using those resources and who they'repartnering with to deploy them. Because, while employers have a lot of skinin the game, they know that we're in an economy that competes on talentand for a long time a lot of these investments have been reserved for theprecious view they were going to folks who were in more advanced ranks inside thecompany or they were being used largely as an employee benefit, so that thetarget was retention, and part of that was, hey, if you workfor us, you know we can help reimburse some of your tuition costs ifyou're still going to a post secondary institution and trying to earn a credential ortrying to earn a more advanced credential. So we know employers have been investingand they're investing for good reason, because it is a very attractive way ofemployers to be more hands on to prepare workers for jobs and careers and theirsector and in their company. It's important...

...to them to advance people into criticalroles and positions that would otherwise be vacant for long periods of time if theywere trying to source this talent from the spot market. So we know thattheir economic competitiveness depends on their ability to choir and make use of talent.So these investments really need to make sure. The investments they make really need tobe geared towards building a pipeline of talent that they can compete on,but also advancing those in careers, so their most critical jobs, to supporttheir enterprises, but also to make these investments in a way that improve employeewellbeing and also to help employees manage their skills and skill obsolescence and always helpingtheir employees so they're always remaining competitive in the labor market, and by doingthat that builds good will, it builds a good relationship and that does resultin improved retention, which companies want and need, and also saves them alot of money if they do it well. But a lot of companies too,are also now looking at an expanded volley value proposition where it's not justabout how do I get the talent I need and how do I keep thattalent and grow it, it's also about how do I make sure that forthose workers who are are not going to be here long term, and thatapplies to a lot of service sector jobs where we know there's going to beturnover and we know that this is a stop on some of these career journey, how do we make sure it's not just an employment experience but they arealso getting a training experience that is recognized and valued where they can pursue continuingeducation. So if they move on, that good experience they've had can leadto referrals or could lead to them becoming a longtime customer of that particular company. So there's there's value in not only rowing your workforce and competing on thatworkforce, but there's also value in creating that good experience that can result inother benefits to the company. I love all of those different angles in termsof the task at hand, which is competing for talent. Right now let'sdig into one of those. Just why is a focus on upskilling ones incumbentworkforce one of an employer's biggest opportunities for...

...competitive success right now in a tightlabor market? Yeah, so you know, upskilling is a critical part of anycompany's talent management strategy today, and there's a number of reasons why.If somebody comes to work for somebody and they don't have they don't see aclear or intentional pathway for how they can they can advance in their own personalcareer and working for that company, what that could result and it is thatperson not being there as long as you want them to be there. Sothat's where retention comes in. So by growing your own may not only buildthat good will, but it allows you to fill a critical job role andretain someone longer than they otherwise might be retained. There's an advantage to that. Now another reason why upskilling is so critically important is for a lot ofthese advanced jobs there's a skill gap. There's not a quick and ready talentpool available that, but for searching for them and them applying, could easilybe filled. So you have these these more advanced positions inside companies that cango vacant for unacceptable periods of time. That can actually inhibit it a company'sability to compete and that becomes a problem. So if, instead of having ajob dry out on the on the spot market, hoping and praying thata qualified candids going to come along, by upskilling, you can actually bemore intentional and look from within and say, for those jobs that I don't havefor whatever reason, I don't have a lot of confidence or I haven'thad a good experience being able to source them from outside my company, thisis a great way for me to be more intentional about identifying candidates that arewell positioned to upskill and advance for those jobs that I might otherwise struggle tofill. And that just takes some intentionality on the part of the company todo it, but for a lot of them that's the best way to doit, particularly and tight labor markets or constrained labor markets, and you're startingto see that now, where there isn't a big enough labor pool available tofill all the needs that are out there. There's a huge gap in terms ofthe demand that employers have in a...

...wide variety of ways, but butespecially for jobs, and the available supply of talent, in available workers whoare the working age population. So that's a product of the pandemic and economicrecovery, but it's also indicative of a larger work for a trend that washappening even before that, which has been exacerbated, which is we have adeclining working age population. So employers are going to be in a space wherethey need to compete on talent, but they have to do more with less. And if you're thinking, as a company or an industry, that we'regoing to be able to find all the talent we need outside of our companiesand we don't have to look from within, you're going to be putting yourself ata disadvantage. So it's just the nature of the market we're in todaythat companies that want to be successful have to look at upskilling as part oftheir solution because if they don't, they're going to have vacancies that are goingto cripple their ability to compete in the market. I know you've seen somesome very creative solutions here, some curious. From your perspective, how important isit for colleges and universities to avoid just offering their standard prefeed degree menuto a local employer and works to try and partially customize some programs for specificemployers in order for these employer education partnerships to truly be successful? Yeah,so if I was speaking to any of our friends and higher education or inpost secondary education, but at large, what I would suggest is one ofthe worst things you could do is go into sales mode and approach a companyor group of companies and approach it as just just take what I'm selling,and what I mean by that is not understanding their needs and how to customizeyour programming and credentials to meet their needs. Will put you at a disadvantage inthat conversation and for some companies back in the day, it was assimple as hey, look, I want to have this tuition reimbursement program Iwant to identify eligible institutions or programs where...

...someone were to go and spend money, I reimburse them and they set the criteria for how to use that.That benefit section one hundred and twenty seven of the code, the text code, and that's kind of going away. What you're seeing is for companies whoare putting skin in the game, they want to see greater returns and value. So they're not just saying go after any degree or program they're saying wewant to make sure that what people are learning will actually help build their skillsand the clear they're trying to advance in, whether it's inside of our company oroutside of our company. So they're being much more tactical about where youcould use their training dollars or their tuition reimbursement benefits and they're trying to createsome intentionality about where you're starting and where you're going. So companies are gettinga lot more tactical about that. So understanding first and foremost. Like wewe do talent supply chains through my organization, and we we help companies engage incollective action, identify their priority workforce needs, but clearly identify the painpoints that are bringing them to this discussion or that's causing them to engage incollective action, and understanding those pain points and those goals those companies have isreally critical, because it's not just going to be I want to generic benefitand I want to make sure people who come to my company have an opportunityto pursue higher education or credential that's good, but what's better is to come inand say, look, we know one of your issues as retention,or we know one of your issues is stilling certain job vacancies or standing upcertain operations because you don't have the talent to do it. Let's make surethat we are coming in as an outside provider of education, training credentialing servicesand we are going to be working with your workforce, that we are deliveringa customized program that's Taylor made to address your highest priority needs. And everycompany or every cluster of companies that come together are going to have potentially differentneeds. They're going to be somewhat related, but that that tweaking is going tobe really important to speak to their needs and value proposition, because whatwe're going to see as companies have a lot of money in this game,but they're going to be very conservative when...

...it comes to how they're going toexpend those resources and with whom. So the more your institutions in your programs, our position to say we can do it needs assessment with you to figureout how we can design reskilling and upskilling program services and credentials that could bestaddress your most critical pain points while also adding the most value for your workers. That's going to be a powerful cell. But coming in and just saying hey, if you got tuition reimbursement dollars, you should have your workers come andattend our programs as they are, it might not go as well.And part of that also requires the institution to see through the delivery of theprogram because for a lot of folks, you know, they are already startingin their careers, they may be midway through their careers, and they don'thave the the luxury of engaging with that programer institution like a traditional student whowould, if there is such a thing anymore. And we need to thinkabout access issues. How often somebody interfaces with that program so transportations an issue. Time is an issue. They're working, they're part of or raising families.So you need to think through the complexity of not just how are weaddressing the employer pain points and goals with our program how do we fit in, but then how do we make our program as accessible and accommodating and supportedso that those learners and workers could have meaningful access and participation and can persistin complete the program we've made for them, understanding that they're bringing a set ofconstraints and conditions and characteristics that might not reflect what we would consider atraditional student on our cantathetics chasing. Let's break down some final next steps.Advice for the to audiences that you work with the most, that you arebeautifully and unique leave right in the middle of your next steps. High LevelAdvice for employers considering employee education partnerships who may have not been engaged in themor made it a priority in the past.

How do you suggest they approached thatwork? Yeah, right now at what I'd say is you have tobring every employer on a journey, and it's a journey of selfdiscovery and weall kind of come to this conversation with preconceived notions or assumptions about how thingsare and why things are the way they are and when the first bits ofadvice I give to employers, but really to anybody, is challenge your assumptionsbecause you got to get in there. You have to do your homework anddo the data on what's actually happening. And for a lot of companies,to get them to buy into additional investment in their current workers, into reskillingand upskilling, particularly if they don't have a lot of experience or history withit, is a big bet. But you need to not it's not somuch lecturing and convincing as much as let's look at your data, let's lookat what's happening now, let's look where you have job vacancies, let's lookwhere you have retention issues and let's identify where we can actually incorporate some ofthese interventions with feedback from your employees to figure out what's the right mix ofthese kinds of upskilling and reskilling investments that could achieve your goals. But firstwe need to be able to identify what your goals are and be able toconnect how this particular set of investments will be impacting those goals. So youknow it's successful and if a company can actually be able to draw a directline of site between these activities in these outcomes that contribute to this Roi,that's how you get them to invest more and that's how you get them toinvest continually. So you have to set the game upright from the beginning.But it takes working with with whether it's an individual employer or group of employers, to go through that discovery process and to really look at the data anddo their homework to understand why they should be in this business. It's notfrom a approaching it from a sense of corporate citizenship or corporate social responsibility.Is certainly a way to get somebody interested, but if you want them to dothis as good business practice and to be fully invested, you have toconnect to the business side of it. And when it comes to the highereducation side, I'd say it's it's your...

...market to lose. If you're lookingat where the money's going to be at and where the populations at who couldbe benefiting from these services. It's the incombent workforce. It's the current mixof existing employees who are going to be in need of reskilling and upskilling.Whether they're sticking with that company or industry or moving to another one, becausewe are in an economy that will compete on skills and the threat of skillobsolescence is very real. The half life of skills will only get worse.So we need to make sure that, and that's beyond just education, thatWHO's how we finance education. There is a lot of dimensions for this,but if you're looking at where's the market that's in need of education, trainingand credentialing services on a continual basis, it's largely young adults and folks whoare midxting through their careers will already working. Book of the workers and learners atthe same time, if you're able to organize the educational experience that's acommodating but also one that can meet their employers needs. So it's not theindividual having to go it alone. I have to go work my job,I have to raise my family, I have to do all my other responsibilitiesand I need to reskill it. It's making that easier and saying it's oneand the same if we want it to be and we can make it suchthat it's integrated with your employment experience. It has the support of your employerand it's funded by your employer or financed, and that's where we can talk abouthow employers could better target and make use of their tuition reimbursement benefits,of which they put out an amount that rivals, tell on a good year, approximately thirty billion year, and it could also be used to say,well, Hey, if individuals are actually taking out debt or having loans toaccess these opportunities, under the current tax code employers are now able to actuallyhelp pay down that that without it counting as taxable income to the employee.So there you have an opportunity to say hey, well, we'll pay forit up front. Will reimburse you or should you be arriving with that ortaking on that, we can help retire that that. Now we need tomake that benefit more permanent. That that's a conversation for another day, butthere's what I'm trying to get across as...

...it's about accommodating the learner when theyare a worker, it's about getting the employer bought in and it's about makingit a shared risk and shared value creation proposition where the employers benefiting, theworkers benefiting and the worker is not incurring all of the risk, but thatrisk is share with the employer, who also has more skin in the game, and that's, I think, is the way to approach it and theway it's going to work for both parties. It's going to take employers understanding howit fits within our larger talent management trategy to the point where they willonly put skin in the game, and it's going to take the education,training and credentialing providers their ability to approach employers, connect to their value propositionand then find ways of accommodating their workplace culture and environment so these learning servicesbecome one and the same as the employment experience and that the employer is ableto provide more direct investment which takes so much of the burden a risk offthe learner worker themselves. Jason is such great counsel and Great Advice. Thankyou so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners toconnect with you and your team with they have any follow up questions? Yeah, we're happy to engage with and work with anyone. We are very accessible. The best way to connect with us is via email. I'm happy togive you my personal email address. It's my first initial last name at USChambercom. My first initial is j, my last name is spelled teas andTim why is in yellow, s, as in Sam Zias and Zebra Kasand Kevin and O as an Oliver so jtys Z Ko at US Chambercom andwe'd be happy to connect with you if you're a education institution that's seeking tokind of rethink and recalibrate how you engage employers effectively and how you better understandtheir needs and can help them codesign solutions. And we're also happy to engage withany employers or any employer partners of theirs to think through what they needto do internally to kind of organize their work for strategy and start producing better, more actionable data about their needs so...

...they could be a much more effectiveand accommodating partner to you. So we work on both ends, but we'rehappy to help kind of build that bridge and create that system level alignment.Yeah, we're we do that all day long and we do all over thecountry. We have a networks operating and over thirty eight states and even inCanada, and we'd be just really privileged they have the opportunity to engage withwith your audience on these issues. Jason, keep up the wonderful work and thankyou so much for joining us today. Thank you. Attracting today's new posttraditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wideapproach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this neweducation landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growthplaybook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressingenrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You'vebeen listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you nevermiss an episode, subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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