- Learning services provider InStride announced two partnerships earlier this month aimed at boosting services for adult learners working at its employer clients.
- The company Feb. 5 announced a partnership with the City University of New York (CUNY). In a statement, CUNY said its School of Professional Studies would work with InStride to allow employees at both U.S. and global organizations to enroll in its online programs and courses.
- InStride then announced Feb. 18 that it partnered with Smart Horizons Career Online Education, a private, online school district, to allow participating employees to pursue a high school diploma.
Education benefits seem to be having a moment in the employment space. A November 2019 analysis of 13 benefits offerings by WorldatWork found that three forms of education benefit offerings — employee scholarships, student aid and student loan benefits — showed the biggest year-over-year usage increase of all offerings analyzed.
The growth is driven in part by increased investment in the space and simultaneous growth in the number of providers servicing employer clients. InStride is one of those providers, having launched in June 2019 in a collaboration between Arizona State University and The Rise Fund. At the time of its launch, InStride stated its goal was, in part, to expand employee access to debt-free higher education.
Some employers, particularly large companies such as Walmart, view tuition assistance as an employee benefit, albeit one that can train employees in particular aspects of their jobs. Walmart's $1-a-day degree program, for example, expanded associate employees' access to degree programs in business and supply chain management, with the goal of helping employees in "preparing for the future."
Such programs require a balance between the needs of the business and the personal goals of workers, sources previously told HR Dive. Employers may plan to direct participants toward training that is most relevant to any existing skill shortages, yet personalization can be a key motivator to encourage participation.
Employers also have broadened their focus beyond adult learners, in some cases targeting learning initiatives toward K-12 students. A lack of experienced, localized talent pools has driven this direct collaboration between companies and educators at the local level. Initiatives such as PwC's "Access Your Potential" focus on providing funding as well as educating teachers and guidance counselors on potential career paths for students, among other efforts.