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Employers see benefits of education assistance programs

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According to a June 2015 International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) survey of its members, U.S. employers, of the 83% of organizations that do offer a form of education assistance or tuition reimbursement to their employees, 75% reported the program as successful despite the fact that in many organizations, less than 5% of eligible employees participate in the programs.

Education assistance programs provide an employee with a fixed monetary amount, typically USD 5,000 to 7,000, and most employers require a minimum grade for course reimbursement. Nearly half of organizations require payback of funds if an employee leaves before a specified period after completing the coursework.

Employers offer education assistance programs for several reasons: 52% to retain current employees, 43% to keep employees satisfied and loyal, and 41% to help employees stay up to date on the skill sets needed for the job. Other reasons include attracting future talent and promoting innovation.

Despite the low takeup, only 2% of organizations plan to decrease their emphasis on educational benefits over the next five years, while 29% expect to increase their emphasis.

Apparently, educational assistance benefits are indeed useful as an employee retention device but do not help much in growing a workforce’s knowledge and skills, due to the low takeup. There may be a difference for millennials, as they are understood to highly value training and personal development opportunities and hence, an education assistance program.

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