No-Cost Degrees Are Trending in HR. Here’s Why.

Two young professionals studying for their no cost, free degree program

One of the biggest newsmakers in talent strategies today is the no-cost degree – programs that pay for large swaths of a workforce to earn college degrees at zero cost to employees.  

It seems every week a new one is making headlines. And data like this – showing that hourly employees value career opportunities more than job changes – make a pretty clear case for the appeal, especially among the frontline employees everyone’s fighting over. 

But is that all it can be – a generic, one-size-fits-all carrot that looks pretty?  Could it be more than just for show?  

It can if it’s done strategically.  

Multiple Goals with a Single Strategy

An illustration is our own Horizons Teacher Degree Program

We created it with a specific skillset – and employee population (teachers) – in mind. It’s open to all center employees. There’s no cost to employees, and no waiting period for new hires. The one requirement is for employees to stay with Bright Horizons for 18 months after earning their degree. School partnerships removed financial barriers and made the program cost effective for large numbers of teachers to pursue skillsets that met their goals…and ours. 

The results have been heartening in every possible way.  

Teachers get to pursue a long-held goal that might not otherwise have been available.

Their new skills enhance our centers.

Their achievement connects them to the company. 

Their connection to the company fuels commitment.

Their commitment gives parents and children the continuity of teachers who stay. 

The teachers’ stories become the stories of our brand: 

“Graduating has been a dream come true for me, it has given me new opportunities to grow in the career that fulfills me, which is Early Childhood Education.”

“I truly believe I would not have been able to complete my degree without this program.”

“I have always wanted to work with children and watch them grow and learn. But I also wanted to be the best teacher I can be. So going to school to learn more about teaching and helping each child in any way I can means so much to me.”

“My future aspiration is to get a Master’s Degree and become an Educator Coordinator. I want to spread my knowledge and love for teaching to other teachers and help them create classrooms where children can thrive.”

Since its launch in 2018, we’ve had more than a thousand people sign on. Some have already finished study programs, and we expect to have hundreds of newly minted graduates by the end of next year. 

That’s way more than just for show.

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
Two young professionals studying for their no cost, free degree program

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