If you want to keep your skills sharp and stay at the top of your professional game, getting extra training can be essential.
However, it can also be quite costly, so you might not be able to afford the extra expense.
Getting your organisation to pay for your training is a great way to get the professional development you need without taking yet another expense off your paycheck.
Asking for course funding can be a tricky business, as organisations can be keen to talk the talk when it comes to staff development but slow to part with their cash.
There’s no need to panic though! Our guide will walk you through how to go about making your request, and even comes with sample request email/letter templates that you can customise to fit your situation.
Find out your company’s training policy
Most organisations have some kind of process in place when it comes to signing off on staff training. This might be a formal written policy, or it could be an informal arrangement, but it’s best to investigate if such a policy exists before you make your request.
You might find this in your staff handbook or the organisation’s intranet or HR materials - if you’re not sure, you can try checking with someone from the HR department.
It might be that your organisation has a set budget for staff training for each year. If this is the case, you should aim to time your request near the time when the funds are replenished.
You should also try to find out who has the final say on signing off your training as this may affect how you make your case.
Gather lots of research
To present a strong argument in favour of your training, you’ll need to be prepared to answer any questions your boss might have. To help you get started, here’s a list or areas your research should cover. (You won’t need to present all this to your boss, but it’s useful to cover all your bases should any questions come up).
The first thing you’ll need to be sure of is the exact course or programme you want to study. Take some time to look at the different options on offer and find the one that best matches what you need.
Choosing the right training course is so important as it will be much easier to convince your boss to part with the funds if it’s relevant to your role, will benefit the organisation, and is delivered by a trusted provider.
If your planned training will take up any of your working hours, you’ll need to consider if your boss will sign off on this. It’s likely they will prefer an option that has the least amount of disruption to your day-to-day role, so you might need to make assurances that your training will not detract from your job.
Take some time to look at what each training provider actually offers for the price they’re charging. Your boss will want to know that they’re paying for quality training which will support you to achieve your goals, so don’t feel like you have to present them only with the cheapest option.
If you’re particularly set on a certain course and provider, we’d recommend presenting it alongside another two other options - one that’s lower in price but has less included and one that offers roughly the same service but is higher in price.
This way your preferred choice will be presented in the best possible light, and you'll have a reasonable cheaper alternative if it turns out there's limited funding available.
What you’ll learn and how long it will take
Your boss will need to know what exactly what it is they’re paying for, so you should write up a short summary of the course syllabus. You should include the key topics that the course covers and if you’ll receive any formal qualifications or certifications on completion.
You’ll also need to know or have a good idea of how long the course will take to complete. This is especially important if you’ll require time out of your working hours for your studies.
A half day out for training here and there might not feel like a big deal to you, but your boss will have to look at how your absence will affect targets and the rest of the team.
Build your case
Having assembled all your facts, you now need to present to build a strong case for why your training is a good investment.
Whilst it’s fine to briefly touch on why you personally deserve it, you should try to focus the bulk of your argument on how it will benefit your organisation. Think about what the positive impact of your new knowledge and skills will have on your work and your team and compile your thoughts into a brief list.
The benefits to your organisation might include:
- An increase in your productivity
- Sharing your new knowledge with your team
- You’ll be able to accept new responsibilities
- You can keep the organisation up-to-date on the latest industry developments
- You’ll add value by taking new approaches to your work
- Your new skills will allow you to stay ahead of competitors
- Savings made in the long run e.g. cost of outsourcing/hiring a new team member
Try to be as specific as possible here as your boss needs to be convinced that there will be an actual return on the investment the organisation is making in you.
Pick the right time
Even if your organisation doesn’t have a fixed training budget, it’s worth finding out when the overall annual budgets are set for the year.
If the budget’s set in January, your boss might be unable to part with cash at the beginning of November, so you might need to be flexible with your start date.
Generally, you should aim to make your request just in advance of the new year's budget, but you should chat to your manager or mentor for advice about your specific company.
Put your request into writing
Not so long ago you would most likely have to type up and print out a formal letter, but these days putting everything down in an email should suffice. There are some organisations who would prefer the printed option, but we’ll trust you to know what will work best in your particular situation.
The email or letter should give a good overview of your research, but not be too lengthy - no one’s asking for an essay so make it concise.
It should also invite the opportunity to discuss the matter further in a meeting between you, your boss and/or the relevant HR people.
We understand this is a difficult task, so we’ve come up with some templates that you can use to get you started. We’ve split these into three categories depending on what you're asking for: a one-off event or conference, an online course, or a classroom-based course.
Be well prepared for the meeting (and each outcome)
When you meet with your boss you should be as prepared as possible. Draw up a list of the questions and concerns they may have and come up with how you will respond in advance.
Practice your responses as best you can so you don’t get flustered and spend some time going over your research again, so you know the course you want to study inside out.
During the meeting, be clear when you present your proposal and be sure to keep the emphasis on why funding your training is a good business decision. Remember to stay professional even if things don’t go the way you want them to.
Our templates are good, but we can’t guarantee that by using them you’ll automatically get your training approved. There are so many factors in these decisions, many of which may be beyond your manager's control, so even if you present the best argument possible it might not go ahead right away.
If your request is refused, be respectful of the decision and ask for feedback on why. It might be something that can be re-opened in the near future.
If you’re successful, make sure you honour the assurances you made in your proposal and get the best you possibly can out of the course. Happy studying!
Thinking about further training for yourself or your team? Find out more about our flexible online courses.