Training and Education
Issue: Low wage workers are often unable to take advantage of tuition reimbursement programs because
they require the employee to pay the cost of tuition out of pocket, up front. Low-wage workers typically cannot afford to do this, so many workers taking advantage of tuition reimbursement are those at a higher level who are pursuing an advanced degree.
Possible Solution: Offer tuition pre-pay programs, where the employer covers the costs up front or co-invests with their employee as they pursue their education. Allow for grace periods when grades slip below the “required” levels for tuition assistance and check-in often with student employees to help ensure success. Consider covering additional expenses such as books and supplies to improve success rates. Employers may also have access to grants to have employees trained in specific areas for free or at a reduced cost. (Local community and technical colleges should have relevant information available.)
"Our tuition assitance policy not only provides educational assistance for college degree programs, but also is designed to encourage professional and clinical certifications. We
have introduced a component called Visions which allows employees earning less than $40,000 a year as a full - time employee to apply for the tuition assistance to be paid
upfront rather than having to take out a financial loan to get started on their journey. This helps to assure education is affordable to all. The number of employees pursuing RN, BSN
and MSN have increased as well as the number of employees pursuing professional certifications."
"Tuition assistance expansion ensures that non - college courses are covered for employees in eligible roles. Tuition funds are provided upfront as an advancement, eliminating the significant financial barrier for many employees. Only seven months old, the program has been used by more than fifty employees. One employee currently enrolled in the program mentioned on her evaluation, "When I joined Cincinnati Children's I wanted a job. This program tells me Children's wants me. What a difference."
Unpaid Job Training
Issue: Unpaid job training is only accessible to those who can afford to work without pay, which excludes many low-income individuals.
Possible Solution: Consider offering paid training to support new employees during the transition to their new position. There are often new hire training
grants available which provide a 50/50 match for employers- these grants are available from both the government and private organizations.
Requiring workers to have a GED
Issue: Historically, the GED has been a proxy for a high school diploma but it has evolved to become a college-readiness examination. By requiring passage of the GED for a position, you may be eliminating potentially qualified applicants that do have the skills to perform the job you need.
Possible Solution: Instead of the GED, consider requiring a National Career Readiness Certificate. The NCRC’s WorkKeys measure a range of hard and soft skills relevant to any occupation across industries. If you do require a GED, consider allowing employees to work towards the GED in the first six months of their employment and provide incentives in the form of gift cards or bonuses upon completion.
Training Location and Hours
Issue: Off-site training can make it difficult for workers to take advantage of training opportunities due to transportation and child care limitations.
Possible Solution: Instead, consider providing training on-site during work hours, making it more likely that workers will attend. You could also consider online/taped trainings that can be accessed at any time from a dedicated computer on-site or from their personal computer/tablet. Higher attendance at job trainings result in a more skilled and effective workforce for the employer.
"At Nehemiah we have found the best success with attendance for job training when we eliminate barriers like extra time and transportation. At Nehemiah Manufacturing we have split our first and second shift to allow an hour for training. The first shift is 6:30am - 3:00pm and the second shift is 4:00pm - 12:30am. We hold training from 3:00pm - 4:00pm. We have learned that in providing access to learning more skills, the workforce as a whole becomes more productive."
Access to Career Coaches
Issue: Low wage workers may not see a path to advance, resulting in high turnover at the company as workers seek advancement elsewhere.
Possible Solution: Access to professional development, mentoring, and a clear understanding of how to advance from one level to the next within their company can help low-wage workers advance. In particular, low-wage employees may benefit when employers provide an employee relations model where there is a dedicated resource between management and the employees to coach and guide the employees on workplace expectations and opportunities.
Soft Skills Training
Issue: Frontline workers may receive technical training, but still lack the soft skills (interpersonal skills and understanding of workplace culture) necessary to be successful.
Possible Solution: Consider incorporating soft skills training into on-the-job- training for new employees. The goal is to help new employees understand what is expected of them in areas such as punctuality, handling of personal emergencies such as sick children, and conflict resolution with coworkers and supervisors. Career coaches, as described above, can be very helpful in this area.