INSIDE YOUR PRACTICE: More employers “upskilling” their employees

By Clark Howard

AUGUST 9, 2014 – Imagine going from working in maintenance at a hospital moving furniture to a highly paid nursing position. More employers are “upskilling” their employees by paying for their education so they can further their careers right on the job.

Here we are in the midst of ugly unemployment numbers. There are an estimated 3 million jobs in America that employers can’t find people with the right skill set to fill. They can’t play the match game effectively.

But a couple of organizations have taken this on as their own responsibility. One is Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. They have a program where good employees become eligible for upskilling after they show good character and work history.

I read about a man named Roddale Smith in a Bloomberg story who was working as a maintenance person and became eligible for upskilling. He continued to work while doing nursing school at night, paid for by his employer. Now that he’s graduated, there’s a job waiting for him as a skilled nurse at his hospital.

Others kinds of people who’ve been upskilled elsewhere include cafeteria workers, housekeepers, clerks, and lower level technicians.

Meanwhile, Amazon has a program called Career Choice for some of their employees. If you are working in a warehouse, they will reimburse up to 95% of your tuition for a variety of matriculating fields. Of course, no good deed goes unpunished. Amazon has been criticized for the program’s $8,000 cap for coursework. But hey, it’s a start.

I got my master’s degree paid for by IBM, where I was working as a bill collector by day while going to school at night. They offered a tuition reimbursement plan for any class you got a B or above in. I just paid for books. Out of the 550 IBM employees at my location, I was one of only two who took advantage of the free educational benefit!


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