Horizons Teacher Degree Program: Elevating an Industry By Degree(s)

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A few years ago, we made a big announcement -- that we’d be paying for early educators to earn their college degrees…for free.

The Horizons Teacher Degree Program was born in June 2018, and it quickly became a prime example of what we believe in – that employee development is a great way to both support our people, our industry, and reach our company’s talent goals.

So how’s it working?

A little background first...

The program was designed specifically around our talent challenges. To do that, we started the same way we would for any client we serve – by understanding needs (more teachers in our centers) and then matching those identified talent needs with our employees’ career goals. “Over and over again we kept hearing that our teachers were interested in furthering their own education,” our CEO Stephen Kramer told Slate at the time. “So, we started to evaluate the barriers for teachers wanting to go back to school.”

Then, we drafted our plan accordingly:

To reach the largest audience, we opened it to all full-time employees of our child care centers.

To effectively recruit, we removed waiting periods for new hires.

To effectively retain, we ask graduates to stay with us 18 months after graduation.

To remove financial barriers, we leveraged tuition and other discounts from a select network of schools, enabling us to offer the program to employees 100% free – tuition, fees, books and all.

To help people be successful, we provided education coaches to offer guidance on prerequisites and choosing the program that fit.

To support our goals, we offered it only for programs related to early education.

How’s it working?

Since that first year, nearly 8,000 educators have signed up. And the graduations have rolled on, with this year’s new credentials numbering close to 400, and the total chugging up toward 4,000. That’s thousands of newly credentialed teachers (with certificates, undergraduate, and even graduate degrees) who elevate the field in every way – for the individual employees, the children in their care, the parents who rely our centers, and the industry itself.

And that’s just part of the payoff. Promotions are exceptionally more likely for participants (60% of those credentialed through the program have moved up), and turnover among them is as much as five times lower than in the general teacher population. Enthusiastic employees deliver the biggest recruitment strategy of all: excitement about their careers….with us.

"This is an opportunity for me to fulfill a dream,” said one employee in a common refrain about the program.

So there’s the upshot. Happy employees. Happy organization. Elevated field. Most importantly, happy families in our centers.

So how’s it working?

We’d say it’s working pretty well.

Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
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