There was a time, back in those glory days of strong unions and guaranteed pensions, in which people commonly held jobs in which their employers would pay for them to go back to school to attain the college degrees they needed to grow and improve their companies. These days are pretty much over, but a form of the employer-sponsored college programs may be making a comeback. According to an article (requires login) by Sara Fritz in Youth Today:

A number of large American companies, such as UPS, are trying to address the potential workforce shortage with so-called “earn and learn” programs…. Corporate Voices for Working Families, a nonprofit, membership organization comprised of about 50 corporations, assists employers in developing learn and earn programs for their workers. It receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as other foundations. Gates has announced a goal to double the number of low-income people who earn postsecondary degrees or credentials by age 26. Only 25 percent of low-income young people now do so.

Earn and learn programs are employee-sponsored education programs in which people working at a company receive tuition money from their company to go back to school.

“Growing number,” however, masks the incredible rarity of this sort of thing. It appears promising, but it’s not promising enough to be truly widespread.

But this program does appear to work for businesses, allowing them to essentially create the workers they need. In fact, earn and learn programs provide something roughly analogous to what a lot of for-profit colleges say they do. As the Career College Association explains:

[The colleges] provide professional and technical, career-specific educational programs. Career colleges focus on the needs of both students and employers. Many offer online courses of study, flexible course schedules and accelerated completions to meet the needs of working adults juggling study, full time employment and personal commitments.

The difference is that earn and learn programs don’t cost the college students anything, and they actually have a job guarantee. [Image via]

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer