Why Adult Learners are Great Investments

adult learner

Recently, a newspaper reporter asked around Yale about the school's new how-to-be-happier class.

A number of undergrads remarked on the oversight on assignments (there wasn't any), and so the class's potential to be an easy A. The professor, on the other hand, noted the work required to actually be happier, and so called the class one of the most difficult a student could take.

The disparate approaches are pretty much a metaphor for the way straight-out of-high-school undergraduates and adults think about learning; one for the piece of paper, the other for the knowledge that comes with it. And the latter is precisely what makes adult learners such great investments for your benefits dollars.

What else makes the adult learner different...and people you want to support with education?

They're goal oriented

Adults don't have time to dilly dally. And they no longer have a single-minded focus on degrees. They want job-specific knowledge - especially since 29% of employees say their skills will be outdated in one to two years. And they'll happily opt for shorter routes to get there. There are benefits to delivering that speed. Adding new credentials such as certificates and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to your tuition program delivers maximum engagement for them - and faster skills for you.

They'll make efficient use of budget

Those same adult learners (about 58 million of them) have credits in their past that can be leveraged toward new courses of study. Education advising that helps employees find and transfer those credits streamlines their education and stretches your tuition dollars further.

They love to learn

Learning for the sake of learning is a powerful carrot. It's the reason many companies now offer education benefits across all levels of their workforces, from frontline to corporate - and not just for job-related studies, but for classes they find personally interesting.

There's ample data showing how employers are upping their benefits game to compete for employees at all levels. And education is paying off. More than two-thirds of tuition assistance participants say they plan to stay longer at their organization; and nearly 75% of employers in a SHRM survey said education programs are delivering on critical goals.

In the current talent market, those are numbers we can all learn from.
An employee getting education assistance from her employer

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Written by: Alan Robins

April 1, 2021

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.