How to Ask Your Employer to Fund Your CIPD Qualification
The instinct to learn is one of the most fundamental things that defines us as humans.
If you’re serious about building a long-term career in human resources, developing your skills and knowledge through professional development is essential.
Extra professional training can be quite expensive though, so that’s why it makes sense to ask your employer if they will fund it for you — they will ultimately be benefiting from the improved skills and knowledge that you’ll gain.
Convincing your employer to fund your CIPD qualification can seem daunting, but don’t worry – companies funding CIPD qualifications for their staff is fairly common, and shouldn’t be looked upon as a surprising request.
Don’t worry though! Our guide will show you all the steps to follow to ask your employee to fund your CIPD qualification.
Letter request templates
Step 1: Develop your strategy
Coming up with a clear strategy for how you’re going to go about asking your employer to fund your CIPD qualification is essential if you want to be successful.
After all, most roads aren’t laid without plans, and most bridges aren’t built without blueprints.
You can’t just trust to fate and finding your boss in a good mood. You’ll need facts and irrefutable evidence that proves that your qualification will be beneficial to employers.
That means creating a strategy.
The first step is doing some research into the courses that are available, narrowing down your choices and finding out the essential information about the qualification that you want to study.
You might already know the exact course and exact level that you want to study it at. Chances are that you only have a rough idea though, which is why doing dedicated research into the courses that are available is important. It can help you narrow down your choices and also access information that you didn’t know about your course.
Here are some useful bits of information to try and find out when you’re carrying out your initial research into the qualification, in preparation for creating a pitch to your employer.
- Find out what your company’s attitude to training is
Before you even speak to your employer, you’re going to need to work out what your employer’s attitude to training is. This will help you craft your approach to asking your employer to fund your CIPD qualification.
Do some digging into the context of employee development at your business. What’s the company’s attitude towards learning and development? Do they offer training courses or any chances for staff to learn new skills or develop existing ones? If the answer’s yes, it might be a lot easier to convince your employer to fund your training.
Of course, if they don’t have any training in place, that’s not the end of the world. With intelligent, evidence-based arguments, you stand a good chance of success too.
- Research the specifics of your potential course
Once you know the training context in your company, you can start gathering together the details you’ll need to decide what course to study, as well as some of the arguments you can use to convince your employer to pay for the qualification.
The training or qualification
Before you even mention your idea for CIPD study to your boss or manager, it’s a good idea to be completely sure of what it is that you want to study and what it is that you want from the process. Do you want knowledge of a specific area of HR, like employment law, for example? Or do you want a more rounded, comprehensive view of the subject? Your needs will directly influence the course that’s right for you.
The good news is that the CIPD have a decent range of options available when it comes to choosing your qualification and your level of study.
There are three basic types of CIPD qualifications to choose from:
Awards are bite-sized courses that cover very specific subject areas. Certificates provide more general coverage of subject areas and completing the qualification can allow you to become eligible for CIPD professional membership. Diplomas are the most advanced qualification and cover a wide variety of subjects and several specialist areas. As with a certificate, completing a diploma will also qualify you for professional membership of the CIPD.
As well as having different types of study, CIPD qualifications also have different levels, which correspond to their difficulty and the range of subjects that they cover.
- Level 3 Foundation
- Level 5 Intermediate
- Level 7 Advanced
A Level 3 qualification is designed as an introductory course and will be suited to beginners who are approaching the world of HR for the first time. A Level 5 qualification is equivalent to an undergraduate degree and it usually requires some knowledge of HR, or relevant work experience, before you can study it. A level 7 qualification is the highest that you can take and is equivalent to postgraduate study. You’ll need significant HR knowledge and experience to study this.
So, put very simply, if you were approaching HR for the first time and only wanted to learn about one very specific subject at a basic level, a Level 3 Award would probably be the best option. If you were a HR Director who had been active in the sector for a decade and wanted to pursue wide-ranging study at the highest level, then a Level 7 Diploma would be better suited to you.
The format of the course
Once you’ve decided the level of qualification that you’re interested in, you should decide how you want to study it. CIPD qualifications can be studied online, as well as physically, so you’ll have a choice about how you want to study it.
- Total flexibility to fit study around your schedule: you can study whenever, wherever you want
- Lower costs than traditional study
- Self-paced learning: you can often complete the qualification at your own speed
- You need a degree of self-discipline to be able to study independently
- You won’t have in-person interaction with other students
- You’ll still need to go to a physical centre for Level 7 exams
- You’ll have a set study routine — useful if you like structure
- You can network with other professionals from other businesses
- You’ll be able to directly interact in person with students and tutors
- Physical courses are almost always more expensive than online ones
- You have to travel each time you go to class
- You can’t fit classes around prior commitments
Whether you choose an online course or a physical course will obviously depend on your own preferences. A lot of people prefer the freedom that online learning can give you.
“A huge driver for using online learning over classroom-based is that you have unlimited flexibility,” says Peter Davis, UK Finance & HR Manager, Veolia Industries, who studied a CIPD Level 7 Diploma online. “You can log on to read a few slides in the morning before work, on your lunch break, in the evening or on weekends. If you have a free block of time you can really get stuck in and do a half or full day of study, as you would in the classroom but at your own speed.”
Others can prefer studying in the more traditional classroom setting that physical courses can provide. When deciding on the format of the course, think carefully about where the needs and preferences of you and your employer meet.
How much it costs
Once you’ve decided what course you want to study, and at what level, it’s time to find the answer to the question that every company’s finance department will be desperate for — how much is the training going to cost?
CIPD qualifications vary in price, depending on how detailed their teaching is. The course fees are usually set by the learning provider.
Online CIPD courses are significantly cheaper than classroom-based courses (not to mention more flexible), so these are a great option if you want to save money. As HR is an increasingly popular area of study, you’ll probably find that your local colleges will offer some kind of CIPD qualification, if you preferred to study in person. Be prepared for slightly higher fees though.
An Award will usually cost you around £500.
The more comprehensive qualifications, like Certificates and Diplomas will vary in cost, depending on what level you study. A Level 3 or 5 Certificate is likely to cost between £1,800 to £3,000, and a Diploma at the same levels will cost between £2,450 and £3,200.
How long it might take?
The length of the course can often be a big motivating factor in whether you decide to study it.
It’s important to take into account how long each course might take too, so that you can anticipate the inevitable questions that your employer is likely to ask and to prepare for them.
Physical courses usually have quite a strict timetable, which means that you’ll have to complete the course within a specified time period, which is usually around one to two years. The vast majority of online courses allow you to complete a course at your own speed, however.
What you’ll learn from it and how it will benefit the business
This is one of the most essential pieces of information to find out: you need to be clear of what you’ll learn from studying the qualification and how this will benefit the business. You can normally get a good idea of this from checking out the exam syllabus and course-specification. Your learning provider’s website, or the exam board that authorises the qualification, will usually have copies of these too.
Finding the benefits that the qualification will offer your business is more subjective though and requires you to think analytically about the company. Carrying out a standard SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis can be really helpful here. Bullet points are your friends.
Step 2: Prepare your Pitch
With the research collected, it’s time to prepare your pitch to your employer. That means sorting through the information that you’ve gathered, creating your arguments and deciding how you’re going to present them.
The most effective approach is to write a formal letter, requesting a meeting to discuss the proposal. These days, it’s easier to do this over email but there’s no harm in printing off a physical copy of the request and handing this in too. We’ve included some useful letter templates you can use as a basis for your letter at the start of this article.
Here are some of the most effective arguments to support your request for CIPD training:
- Training can help maximise your contribution to business goals and efficiency
This is one of the most effective arguments to make to your employer. By paying for you to study a dedicated CIPD qualification, your employer will be improving your ability to do your job. As a result, you’re likely to be much more productive at work, ultimately making the company more efficient and more likely to meet its goals.
Last quarter’s figures for productivity in the UK economy from the Office for National Statistics make for scary reading, if you’re an employer. They suggest that output per worker in the UK economy has barely risen for several years now. This poses a problem to the scalability and growth of businesses, and the wider economy, in the long-term. By investing in your skills as a worker, your employer will be directly investing in the productivity of their own business and helping to safeguard its efficiency in the long-term.
Feedback from professionals who have completed employer-funded training support the idea that it can improve employee engagement at work. “I am feeling more involved in the workplace when advising managers and my opinion counts.” says Alice Grant, HR Administrator, Springfield Healthcare, who recently studied a CIPD Level 5 Diploma through ICS Learn.
Jean Hall, HR and Payroll Manager at Barnsley Football Club, who studied a CIPD Level 7 Employment Law Award, also thinks that achieving her qualification has benefited her business. “The Managers and Directors are happy that I can confidently hold my own when they are trying to do something that would have consequences for the staff,” she says. “The organisation has benefitted from my learning, as have I.”
- You can apply your learning back to the workplace immediately
The effects of learning are often immediate and can be applied back into the workplace straight away, like employment law knowledge, for example.
One of the key features of a CIPD qualification is the fact that practical assessments often involve finding solutions to real-life problems and challenges in your specific workplace. By paying for you to study a dedicated CIPD qualification, your employer will be getting the maximum value from their investment — you’ll be able to start applying your learning straight away.
Maddison Hill, HR Assistant at Ellis Guildford School, who is currently studying a CIPD qualification, thinks that the benefits of studying can be felt almost as soon as you start. “The course is already benefiting my organisation because my manager feels she can rely on me to attend meetings and assist with important work,” she says.
- Time away from the office can be minimised
Many employers can be worried that studying for a CIPD qualification is going to mean that you’re absent from the office for long periods of time. This fact has no basis in reality—the growth of online courses has basically eliminated the need for students to leave the office to study.
You’ll find that the vast majority of CIPD qualifications can be completed anywhere with an internet connection. In reality, the only time you’ll need to leave the office is if you have to take an exam during your Level 7 course. Level 3 and 5 courses can be studied and assessed completely online.
- It can enhance the profile of your organisation
Finding skilled employees is increasingly difficult and it’s only going to get more so in the future as predicted labour shortages begin to bite.
As a result, employers are going to have to fight even harder to convince possible employees that their company is the best place to work. They’re going to need to prove that they value their employees as human beings and that they value their unique skills, expertise and talents— not just their ability to make money or serve customers. Offering an employer-funded CIPD qualification is a useful way to do that.
Loudly publicising this commitment to employee development (particularly if competitors in your industry aren’t offering anything similar) can really help to boost the reputation of your company, positioning it as values-focused, forward-thinking and more human. These traits can be useful in attracting both skilled employees and repeat customers.
- Your company can access exclusive CIPD resources
When you complete a CIPD Level 3, 5 or 7 Certificate or Diploma, you’ll automatically qualify for membership of the CIPD.
This can grant your business access to a variety of exclusive resources, including access to events, indemnity insurance, and factsheets, templates and research.
A useful feature of membership for a lot of employers is the dedicated access to Employment law, Health and Safety and EU employment helplines, where they can get advice about issues.
Think about timing
One word of warning: always be aware of timing when you’re pitching your personal development plans to your employer.
There will naturally be certain times of the year when your boss has more money to spare from their budget than at other times of the year — for example, just after the budgets for the year have been allocated. You probably have a better chance of being successful in your training request if you ask for it at a time of year when your boss isn’t looking down the back of the photocopier for spare change.
Step 3: Write and Deliver the Letter
Presuming you’ve taken our advice and you’ve opted to write a letter (good decision), you’re probably wondering how you go about structuring such a letter.
We’ve put together some samples of training request letters that you can use as a guide when you’re writing your own letter.
Once you’ve written the letter, make sure you remember to hand it in!
Step 4: Prepare for Your Meeting
The letter’s been handed in. Your boss has confirmed they’ve received it. They’ve set a date for the meeting to discuss the request. Now, what? It’s time to prepare.
Create an agenda for the meeting to give it a clear structure, ensure that both sides have the chance to lay out their thoughts, and agree this format at the start of the meeting.
Be ready to expand on the points that you mentioned in your letter and to give your manager or boss more background as to why you think training will benefit your ability to do your job.
A good way to maximise your chances of the meeting going smoothly is to anticipate issues that your employer might have with funding the CIPD training and to come up with counterarguments to these that are rooted in evidence.
As well as preparing physically for the meeting, it’s useful to prepare mentally as well.
Visualising how you want the meeting to go can help you perform better whilst it’s happening. Taking a few moments to have a few deep breaths can also help to calm your nerves.
Bear in mind that lots of different factors can influence whether an employer decides they can fund your training request, some of which are completely out of your control. Sometimes, even the best argument won’t guarantee success.
Remember to stay professional, even if the outcome isn’t the one you wanted. There might be an opportunity to re-examine the decision in the future.
Of course, if you are successful be sure to deliver everything you promised in your training proposal and make it clear how grateful you are for the opportunity.
Thinking about further training for yourself or your team? Find out more about our flexible online courses.
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