College and university recruiting of “employees who study” with access to employer tuition assistance benefits programs: A qualitative inquiry
Haeussler-Warnick, Erika M.
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A well-educated workforce is critical for the economic development and success of this country (Kazis et al., 2007; Symonds, 2005). Between the years 2005-2009, almost 85% of people over the age of 25 held a high school diploma but no bachelor’s degree (U. S. Census Bureau, 2011). The adult student population and specifically, employees who study - adults whose priority is work, with education second - has been increasing in higher education (Kasworm, 2010). The adult student population has limited financial options to attend college (Hatfield, 2003; Ritt, 2008), as a majority of them attend college part time. One financial option available to employees who study is employer-sponsored tuition assistance benefits. Over three-quarters of companies offer tuition benefits to employees (Cappelli, 2004; Dolezalek, 2009), yet only 6-11% of employees make use of their tuition benefits (Cappelli, 2004). This qualitative study analyzed the recruitment strategies of colleges and universities, to determine if, and how, employees who study with access to employer-sponsored tuition assistance benefits are being recruited. Using a case-study design as the primary genre, 12 participants were interviewed to determine the recruitment practices of employees who study, across six different colleges and universities, as well as the support services in place to further help in the recruitment of employees who study. The findings illustrate that employees who study are being recruited, though different types of colleges and universities use different tactics. Long-standing relationships with employers do exist, and support services, including flexible courses and faculty and staff engagement are being offered for all students at these institutions.