EMPLOYEE, EDUCATE THYSELF!

By G. E. Schmutzer

In today's global-based economy, the logical way to stay on top of one's career is through education. The educated employee becomes adaptable to the ever-changing business climate. Possession of a college degree can make the difference; at worst, avoiding an impending layoff; at best, a better paying position. According to the State of California Occupational Trends and Outlook 1993 2005, "The changing occupational structure of each industry also affects occupational demand. The main causes of occupational structure change within industries are technological change, changes in business practices and methods of operations, and product demand changes." Forward-thinking employees can make change work for them through education, while sharp employers may utilize this opportunity to assist in education, then promote from within the graduate ranks, thereby putting the benefits of an educated and loyal employee to work, a relationship where both parties benefit.

"One of our core values is the adaptability and flexibility of an educated work force, readily adaptable to the ever-changing nature of the health care industry. We care about our employees; assisting in their education makes for an efficient, productive, happier, and more confident individual."

--Joy Cadieu Blazey, L.C.S.W., Coordinator Employee Assistance Program, Little Company of Mary Health Services.

Quite simply, the most effective way for the adult employee to move "onward and upward," is to return to school. The educated employee becomes more efficient (learning time management skills, juggling family, job, and school), and therefore, more productive, an obvious benefit to the company. For the employer, a more confident employee is willing to meet new challenges. And most importantly, educated employees achieve the ability to teach themselves how to learn. An education of value leads to an employee of value, personally and professionally, and employers know this.

"Future employees must possess three important attributes: they need to be flexible, learn continuously, and have a passion for what they do,education is the critical link." --William H. Freemel, Senior Employee Development Manager, San Diego Gas & Electric.

Because returning to school generally culminates in degree/promotion/increase in salary, adult students are doing just that. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, "adult enrollments [are] steadily increasing from 30 percent in 1970, to 40 percent in 1980, to nearly 45 percent in 1990," proportionately higher than enrollment for traditional age students. The adult student doesn't have a lot of time, and needs to use what is learned right away. Therefore, the education received should be readily applicable in the workplace, access to research material streamlined, quick and easy text availability, accessible academic advisement, (relatively) easy tuition payment plans, and a classroom environment that recognizes the fact that many students have not been in school for more than two decades. Provided the interest is evident, bringing degree programs directly to the corporation is the environment today's adult student is most likely to excel in.

"The benefits to our organization are many; the employee who is enrolled in a company-sponsored continuing education program is a highly valued employee whose enlightened work ethic contributes directly to our corporate success. Their mind is awake, aware and alert to new, innovative problem-solving approaches which not only improves our productivity and competitiveness, but act as catalysts that inspire and motivate peers and colleagues. We encourage all our employees to take advantage of this important employee benefit." --Terrell E. Ford, M.P.A., Senior Adjunct Professor, Health Services Management, University of La Verne.

Convenience and comfortability are the primary reasons why corporate education sites exist. Time and again I have seen prospective adult students balk at the idea of returning to school, then become enthusiastic upon learning that degree programs can be delivered where they work. Most people find it difficult to get off work (stress), drive (stress) to campus, find a parking space, walk to class, and be on time to a class full of strangers (and more stress). With an on-site program, the student can easily make it to class with time enough for coffee and conversation with other students/employees. Additionally, certain camaraderie exists between students, both as workmates/friends within a similar age group, sharing in the quest for knowledge, and a better paying position.

Employers are well aware of the changing nature of the (California) workforce, which is why education and educative benefits figure so prominently as a benefit for their employees. More and more, job descriptions call for the completion of a college-level education, because the economy has shifted from being labor-based, to professionally or technically based. Turning to the Occupational Trends and Outlook 1993 2005, "The occupational group that is expected to gain the most in the projection period is the professional and technical group. In 1993, 22.8 percent of California's workers were employed in professional and technical jobs. By the year 2005, it is expected that 23.9 percent will work in these fields. Over 900,000 new professional and technical jobs will be created. By 2005, nearly one in four Californians will be employed in a professional or technical job." In order to compete in the workplace, the wise employee should get his/her degree right away. The wise employer should consider bringing university programs to the existing workforce as soon as practicable. The result is an employee who feels cared about, is loyal, productive, aware of current business trends, ready to tackle new projects with efficiency, accuracy, and results.

The same scene is played again and again: production line employees want to move into the office; in the office, managers want to move up, becoming site or department supervisors; supervisors want to take on the top executive positions available. In each instance, promotion can be achieved through education; in each industry, education benefits the employee who in turn benefits the company; in each corporation, on site education affords employee loyalty and increased performance. The path leading to a set of keys for the executive washroom is precipitous and rocky, but altogether negotiable, provided the climber is armed with the right set of tools, and a clear vision of the terrain. Employee education and corporate success can work together to make career dreams and profitability a harmonious reality.

Mr. Gregory E. Schmutzer serves as the Corporate Contact Marketing Director for the University of La Verne, and works with numerous Southern California corporations, delivering Degree Programs on site.

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