DALLAS, Sept. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In today's job market, employees looking to maintain a competitive edge within their companies should consider pursuing advanced degrees and availing themselves of corporate tuition reimbursement benefits. According to a survey commissioned by Academic Partnerships (AP), one of the largest representatives of public universities' online learning in the United States and around the world, human resources (HR) executives agree that advanced academic degrees are important for employees looking to advance in their companies. The advantages of advanced degrees include upward mobility (89%), promotion (86%), and increase in salary (71%). However, these executives report that only half of their employees hold a bachelor's degree and less than a third (30%) hold a master's degree or above.
The survey polled nearly 275 HR executives involved in making decisions regarding continuous learning initiatives within their companies of at least 500 employees. Results were released as students of all ages begin a new academic year in an uncertain job market.
Despite the somewhat challenging economic environment, companies are continuing to fund continuous learning in the workplace, with HR executives reporting that their tuition assistance budgets are stable (61%) or increasing (30%). The vast majority (81%) of companies are funding all or some tuition for their employees.
So what is holding working adults back from pursuing or completing an advanced degree? According to Academic Partnerships Chairman and CEO Randy Best, the answer could lie in misperceptions about the viability of balancing work and family life with the pursuit of higher education.
"It is clear that HR executives are committed to their employees' pursuit of higher education and that advanced degrees result in tangible benefits in the workplace," said Best. "We know that online learning makes higher education more accessible and achievable for working adults and are pleased that its value is well-understood by employers. Online learning has become a powerful force in educating working adults as they have come to understand the personal and professional advantages it provides."
A rapidly-developing trend in higher education is the utilization of technology for the delivery of instruction by universities around the world. AP partners with 40 public universities in the United States and numerous top foreign institutions to make higher education more accessible and affordable. In turn, it offers its university partners' degree programs through affiliate partnerships with companies that are committed to increasing the educational attainment of their employees.
Employers Look Favorably Upon Online Degree Programs
While obtaining graduate or undergraduate degrees (25%) is less common than other workplace continuous learning activities (37%), HR executives identified that advanced degrees offer the highest opportunity for online education since today most employees access degree programs on campus (91%) rather than online (54%). They also agree that their organizations' support for online degree programs will increase as they learn more about them (73%). And, when it comes to deciding on which continuous learning option to choose, employees equally share accountability with their HR departments.
"We foster the careers of our nurses through continuous learning, so we're glad to see other employers embrace this as well," said Rosemary Luquire, Chief Nursing Officer, Baylor Healthcare System, one of AP's employer affiliate partners. "The alliance we have with the University of Texas at Arlington provides our nurses with the ability to pursue advanced degrees online from a well-known university with a tremendous reputation. It's convenient for our nurses, something that is important to them."
Important Factors in Evaluating Online Degree Programs
Not all online degree programs are created equal. When considering whether to include an online degree program as part of their companies' continuous learning initiatives, HR executives put the highest value on the program's relevance to their respective business (94%) and the flexibility/convenience it provides their employees (94%). Other important factors when evaluating online degree programs included selection of courses and degrees (92%), price (91%), the reputation of the educational institution (91%), and the course schedule (90%).
"Online learning is growing at more than nine times the rate of all other forms of instruction," said Best. "The financial support from employers is an important incentive for employees to pursue higher education, resulting in a more educated workforce."
About Academic Partnerships
Academic Partnerships (AP) helps universities convert their traditional degree programs into an online format, recruits qualified students, and supports enrolled students through graduation. Serving more than 40 public universities in the United States and numerous top foreign institutions, AP is guided by the principle that the opportunities presented through distance learning make higher education more accessible and achievable for students in the United States and around the world. The company was founded by social entrepreneur Randy Best, an 18-year veteran of developing innovative learning solutions to improve education. For more information, please visit www.academicpartnerships.com.
About the Survey Methodology
This survey was administered by Decision Analyst, Inc. and was conducted online among members of their American Consumer Opinion® panel and a sample of outside providers during the summer of 2013. Survey participants included 271 HR executives involved in making decisions regarding continuing learning initiatives for their companies of at least 500 employees. The sample size at a 95% confidence level would equate to a +/-7.4% margin of error had this been a random sample.
For Academic Partnerships
Jaquelyn M. Scharnick
SOURCE Academic Partnerships