3 ways Guild creates more equitable access to continuing education

The future of work is changing. A recent World Economic Forum study found about 88 million adults are in need of upskilling or reskilling to compete in tomorrow’s economy due to factors like technological change and automation.

Data show education and upskilling present an effective way to close this gap, but cost remains a formidable barrier. According to Guild data, 70% of working adults say cost is the biggest obstacle to pursuing additional education.

Education benefits, or employer-sponsored tuition, as a framework has the potential to address this critical challenge, but in reality many employer policies unintentionally exacerbate existing inequities

Guild partners with mission-aligned employers to design education benefits that drive real change and connect students with innovative learning providers committed to serving a diverse population of working adult learners. In this blog we’ll cover three ways Guild helps employers break down barriers to education benefits to create more equitable access to continuing education.

1. Reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket tuition payments

Many employers use a tuition reimbursement model, which typically requires employees to first pay out-of-pocket for classes and then wait to receive reimbursement upon completion. This policy inherently limits education opportunities to those who can afford to front the cost or take on debt, which for many is not an option. Even before the pandemic, 40% of American workers did not have $400 in savings for an emergency expense, and so a policy that requires upfront tuition payment is discriminatory and severely limits participation. 

In contrast, Guild’s partnerships with employers feature payment policies that reduce or eliminate the need for employees (prospective students) to pay out-of-pocket and make a significant difference in removing barriers to continuing education. In fact, 88% of prospective students describe Guild’s education benefit as the reason they are now enrolling in school.

2. Expand education benefit eligibility by removing limiting criteria

In addition to upfront tuition payment, many employer education benefit policies limit eligibility with requirements based on the following: manager approval, lengthy tenure requirements, semester grade minimums, program type, and more. Guild creates more equitable access to education by consulting and advocating for policies designed to open access and serve a diverse population of students.  Examples of more inclusive policy factors include extending eligibility for newer employees, removing subjective manager approval, using cumulative GPA assessment, expanding the available program catalog, and more.

3. Make education benefits easy to discover & understand

Finally, education benefit discovery is often the first hurdle to participation. According to Randstad, an estimated 52% of working adults don’t know that their employer offers education benefits. Guild helps employers combat this challenge by creating multi-channel program awareness campaigns. When employers share and promote adoption of their education benefits, employees are able to explore Guild’s online portal of available tuition-sponsored programs via our Learning Marketplace and speak with a Guild coach to better understand the schools, academic programs, and funding options available to them.

Ready to learn more about Guild’s approach to education benefits?

Education benefits present an important pathway to continuing education and career mobility, yet many programs fall short in realizing these goals due to limiting or unintentionally discriminatory policies. Download our new guide to learn more about Guild’s comprehensive approach to creating more equitable education benefits – an essential component to unlocking opportunity for America’s workforce through education.

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