When we partnered with one of the largest workforce specialist firms in the US - a company called EmployBridge, parent of six major brands including RemX, ProLogisitix, ResourceMFG, and Select Staffing, to support the launch of their Better WorkLife Academy, we were looking forward to serving a unique cohort of adult learners.
We welcomed the opportunity for Penn Foster to provide the education component - a series of no-cost courses intended to empower EmployBridge brand associates to advance in their careers and move up to higher-paying positions.
As it turned out, however, not only was the EmployBridge partnership a great learning opportunity for individuals, it was also one for us. We conducted a survey of associates who enrolled in Better WorkLife Academy during the early weeks. What we learned is that those who signed up for courses early on represent the type of adult learners who are bound for success.
Specifically, they told us, via the survey:
- Education is important. More than 80% of all enrollees have a high school diploma, some college education or have earned a college degree. This tells us that they value education and like to learn - enough to earn credentials in education.
- Job advancement is paramount. Most (77%) of those who enrolled agree that completing the Better WorkLife Academy courses will allow them to advance in their jobs. They want to get ahead in their careers, whether to advance to positions they personally find more interesting, or to earn a higher wage.
- There is no shortage of aspiration. While a large number of workers indicated their motivation for completing the Better WorkLife Academy courses was to begin a new career path (19%) or to advance in their job/career path (43%), a surprising percentage (12.2%) said their primary motivator was to "fulfill a personal goal." This factor mirrors what we have found in Penn Foster's student/alumni surveys; reaching a personal goal is typically also a major reason why our nontraditional learners want to complete courses.
- If it is important enough, they will find the time. Even though they are typically working full time and many associates have families, nearly 84% of them say they plan to commit between 4 and 11 hours per week toward completing their courses.
- Everyone loves a coach. Associates taking courses say they anticipate needing either medium (50%) or high (30%) levels of course support. This support comes in the form of email and text alerts for exam success and hitting major milestones, and phone/email/text/chat conversations with a Penn Foster Success Coach dedicated to the Better WorkLife Academy team. Nearly 40% of those who enrolled for the Academy said they will appreciate the full range of support we can offer.
We love hearing from our learners - what we gleaned from these conversations will help Penn Foster better serve the learners and will help employers find the talent they need.
It's a goal of both Penn Foster and EmployBridge to help close the skills gap. And it's gratifying to helping accomplish this goal we jointly share-whether it's our own students getting diplomas and degrees, or Better WorkLife Academy course completers moving on to jobs that require higher skills. The fact that we're learning something too -- that is icing on the cake.