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Employer-Paid Certifications Give Employers a Learning Advantage

Rob Thompson
By Rob Thompson
on February 18, 2020

Paid training and certifications are a practical option for employers that need to keep their workers up-to-date on the latest skills in their fields. Certifications are anchored by an assessment process by which a participant proves proficiency in a certain skill. The assessment and certification typically fall under the responsibility of a standard-setting organization, established by a credible and recognized process for determining content.

Certifications Aren't Just for Technology

Common examples of certification range from business skills such as the Project Management Professional to technical fields such as a C++ Certified Professional Programmer and vocational fields like construction or transportation. In addition to certifications workers pursue on their own, employers may pay for employees to participate in certificate programs, which differ from certification in that they are based on a course, sometimes in conjunction with training by a local educational institution or industry organization. Passing a specific test defines certification.

Certifications Deliver Multiple Benefits 

With emerging skills facing increasing demand and lower supplies of available talent, the case for employer-paid certifications is strong. On the positive side, the number of certifications and associated training programs is large, so if companies have employees willing to take on the learning effort, new or updated skills can be acquired reliably. Additionally, certifications can boost employee morale and help to advertise and differentiate the organization’s skill set when selling services to potential customers.AGS_Q3_Blog_Certifications

More Employers are Paying for Certifications

According to one industry report, the portion of employers offering to pay for certifications rose from a 2016 level of 33 percent up to 47 percent in 2017. In the Allegis Group survey:

• 42% of HR decision-makers claim they are widely using certifications to acquire or update skills among their workers
• 42% are in the early stages of adoption or plan to implement programs over the next two years

Views About Employer-Paid Certifications are Positive

Overall, HR decision-makers from organizations using employer-paid certifications view the practice favorably. Roughly nine in 10 HR decision-makers agree that certification has a positive influence on:

• The overall employee experience (96%)
• The development of new skills (93%)
• The organization’s ability to attract and retain critical talent (91%)
• Leadership development (90%).

Likewise, 96 percent agree that certification is valuable for helping to sell the company’s skills and capabilities to clients and prospects.

Meanwhile, more than half of employers utilizing employer-paid certification have enhanced them the last two years by:

• Adding new skills to their program (55%)
• Increasing their budget (53%)
• Opening the program up to more people or geographies (51%)

Case in Point: Employers Expand Certifications Strategies Amid Skills Shortage

Due to their highly structured and repeatable nature, certifications can be a valuable tool for helping employers expand their supply of available skills. This benefit is particularly relevant in industries experiencing a shortage of workers in critical areas, ranging from IT to transportation, as shown in the following examples.

Industry Leader Gives Away Training: For a major global technology leader, innovation is at the heart of success, and acquiring talent with the rare skills is difficult. Such is the case for Google. While known for its industry leadership and innovation, it must strive to secure talent with unique technology knowledge and capabilities. Toward that end, Google has taken skills development to a new level by offering, and paying for, certification to workers outside the company.

The Google IT Support Professional Certificate program costs approximately $600, includes 64 hours of video modules, and takes eight months to complete. Notably, the company offered to pick up the full cost of the certification for 10,000 people in the United States with demonstrated financial need. Even though most graduates would take their skills to other employers, the company considers the strategy worth the returns for improving its talent supply.

Transportation Company Pays to License Commercial Drivers: Another example of an industry suffering from talent shortages is the transportation sector. In particular, as truck drivers in the U.S.’ Baby Boomer generation retire, potential new entrants to the workforce are shying away from the long hours, so the need for drivers continues to soar due to increases in delivery demand from a growing economy. As a result, the United States is experiencing a shortfall of 60,000 drivers.

To address the talent shortage, trucking companies are offering a variety of incentives, including paid training for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). For example, major U.S. carrier Roehl Transport provides paid training to potential employees, beginning with the CDL and leading to additional opportunities on the job. Similar to certification, a license in a field validates certain skills based on a test or assessment. Unlike a certification, however, a license is a legal requirement to practice in a field, so paying for the associated training can provide an organization with powerful incentive to attract new workers.

(Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in a white paper titled, “Cultivating Skills to Build the Talent Pipelines of Tomorrow.” Download your free copy today.

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Rob Thompson
Written by Rob Thompson
Editor, Strategic Content Group at Allegis Global Solutions A successful writer and brand development professional with 17 year of experience in agency and corporate marketing and communications. Industry expertise in talent solutions, talent management consulting, information technology, consumer, and non-profit verticals.

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