5 Ways to Better Manage Non-Degree Education for Employees

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Innovative new programs are changing the way your employees pursue education. It's not simply a matter of just using the tuition reimbursement program to get a degree anymore; there's clear value in non-degree programs. And MOOCs, boot camps, certificates and badges have shaken up the landscape and are offering employees many more options.

These non-degree education programs are not going away anytime soon. Instead of pretending they don't exist (impractical since you're already paying for them) and potentially limiting your options, today's education programs needs to make room for both degrees and non-degrees. The question is - how? One approach may simply be to add all these programs to your existing tuition reimbursement policy. But for the HR team, this raises the prospect of a substantial unplanned increase in the centralized tuition reimbursement budget, which may not be the preferred option.

Instead, here are five key recommendations to create a more practical approach:

Clarify the Value of Non-Degree Education

As one of your company's education leaders, you already understand the value of these innovative programs. But you'll need to spread the word so others in your organization see non-degree programs as a cost-effective and targeted way to support employee development.

Define a Consistent Process

Many individual departments already have informal funding and approval systems in place. But introducing approaches that are consistent for everyone is key to optimizing your investment. Funding can remain in the line-of-business or departmental budget, as can supervisor approval since they're best placed to make the judgement call on the value of a program for the employee's development.

Centralize Administration

With a consistent process, you can allow approval and funding to stay with the line-of-business; but you can also combine this with a centralized administration system. Having this single platform to process all of your company's education requests allows you to better understand and optimize spending across the whole corporation, and to negotiate more effectively with key educational vendors.

Track Your Progress

A key component of an education program is addressing talent goals. The centralized administration system will ensure that all programs completed by employees are automatically uploaded to the talent management system to help you track progress and more effectively fill skills gaps.

Address Quality Concerns

As we've discussed earlier, quality assurance is something you'll want to keep track of. Developing minimum standards and/or a preferred suppliers list (supported by central administration) will enable employees and employers to be sure that the education they're paying for is of a high standard.


By taking the above steps, employers will help employees utilize the most cost-effective and targeted approaches to learning, which has got to be a good thing.  And if at the same time you also motivate and retain more employees, then just be ready to take a bow at your next all-company meeting.  

Written by: Alan Robins

About the Author

Alan Robins at Bright Horizons

As Director of Product Marketing, Alan drives original research and thought leadership for Bright Horizons education benefits programs, drawing on his extensive experience helping companies optimize education programs to support their Talent and HR objectives. Prior to Bright Horizons, Alan was at Gartner, a global leader in providing advisory services to technology and business executives, where he led new product teams in Europe and the US.