9

I am a Software Engineer with around 5 years of professional experience and a B.Sc. in Information Systems located in Berlin/Germany.

In the U.K. (preferably Greater London), how do I find an employer that matches the following description:

  • offers shorter working hours
  • sees the benefit in an employee studying part-time
  • ideally contributing toward tuition fees.

Should you approach companies directly? Go through an (specialized) employment agency? Research the desired study programme/university first?

3
  • 6
    You already have the qualification and experience that most companies would want, what would be the benefit to them of letting/helping you study more? Feb 4 '16 at 10:27
  • @RichardDalton Good point. I guess their benefit would be my increased qualification and the fact that I would be committed to them for the duration of my studies.
    – Morris
    Feb 4 '16 at 10:37
  • 2
    @RichardDalton Both my current and previous employers would pay at either partially or entirely for continuing education, with the commitment to continue working for them X amount of time after that. They are increasing your value and at the same time convincing you to stay with them.
    – David K
    Feb 4 '16 at 13:08
10

I thought I should check back 4.5 years later to say it went really well. I'm settled in the UK now and have completed my Master's part-time and moved on to doing my PhD at one of the top unis in my field (also part-time). I'm also employed with a good employer leading a team of software engineers. So no complaints here.

My learnings are (pretty much in line with the other answers):

  • You might not actually need shorter hours to finish a degree course part-time (I graduated with distinction while working full time and becoming a dad half way through).
  • Don't make it part of your initial benefit negotiation. HR will not be accommodating as contributing to uni fees will mean bureaucratic effort. They will also not be able to recoup this cost if you leave/get fired shortly after you started unless there are special contract provisions for it.
  • Don't bring the plan up with your prospective manager during interviews. They don't know whether you can handle it and might see it as a risk.
  • The benefits of a multi-year degree course are likely not tangible to your employer, so it doesn't really increase your value to them. If anything it puts them at risk of losing you for a better opportunity.

So my advice would be to self-fund and keep completely quiet about the course in the interview stage. Only later in the employment, once your are recognised as a productive employee, try to get money from your employer. Ultimately, I was able to get them to sponsor part of the fees. The following tips might be helpful:

  • In 1:1s, performance reviews, casual conversations, etc., bring up the value you got from the course and how it helped you in fulfilling your role. At some point it might sink in with your manager that this is actually an endeavour worth sponsoring.
  • If there is training budget, speak with your manager and the budget holder to understand if it can be used for uni fees (might be negotiable)
  • If you receive a cash bonus, ask if your employer is willing to contribute parts of it towards your tuition fees. This should be win/win as it might have tax benefits for the employer.
  • If there is no financial contribution, ask for other benefits, e.g. time off to study (many employers have specific PTO budgets for this)
1
  • 2
    Thanks for coming back and giving us insight on how it went. Real long term feedback is always very much appreciated !
    – Elcan
    Aug 5 '20 at 12:19
5

This might come as a bit harsh, but it is the general convention followed when it comes to employee education.

Most companies would be very happy to sponsor part-time learning programs like Codecademy, Coursera, Lynda, etc; as they'd help the employee develop and improve at the skills which they use regularly at work, thus making them more and more productive.

However, they wouldn't prefer sponsoring part-time full-time education (or distance education), as it takes very long for an ROI (Return-on-Investment), and by that time, there's no guarantee whether you'd stay or leave as you'll be obviously getting better opportunities owing to your advanced education now.

In case the company has a bond which extends beyond the duration of your education, then you'd have a ground for convincing. Even then, the ROI wouldn't be very convincing for the company.

If there are companies which do offer this, then they'd definitely mention it on their careers page, as it's very rare and a wonderful selling point when it comes to recruiting.

6
  • That may be the way it works in Europe. In the United States, EVERY employer I know of encourages employees to further their studies, EVERY employer (at the professional level) has arrangements to support further study (including but not limited to tuition reimbursement and adjusted work schedules), and EVERY employer is willing to work with an employer in this situation. Feb 4 '16 at 14:37
  • 1
    Can't vouch for "every", but I agree with @JohnR.Strohm that tuition reimbut=rsement plans are common. They may or may not be limited to courses leading to a degree related to your current field. Ask.
    – keshlam
    Feb 4 '16 at 16:19
  • 5
    Just to point out that while many employers in the US do offer tuition reimbursement, every company I know expects the person to still work their FULL-TIME job. They don't want you working less hours to go to school.
    – Dunk
    Feb 4 '16 at 21:20
  • Thanks for you feedback. I have had similar experiences in Germany during my undergraduate studies that's why I have asked this question.
    – Morris
    Feb 8 '16 at 12:59
  • @Morris Same here in India :)
    – Dawny33
    Feb 8 '16 at 13:17
2

In any country - the answer is "what's in it for them?"

Companies generally pay more for more education when they stand to benefit. Ways that education might benefit a company in a given industry or situation:

  • Recruitment is hard - often benefits like part time work, and funded university degrees are offered when it's been difficult to recruit for the type of position. OR... when it's standard for companies of that type then it's hard to recruit candidates with a substandard package.
  • The company benefits from creating educated people - for example, a given expensive certification helps the company win new business, or let's the company maintain critical systems more cheaply.
  • The skills can't be found in the local population - there's reason to have the business in this location, but they can't find skilled people, so they are willing to create their own. It can also be part of a certain recruiting mindset - for example, a certain company may like to groom undergrads and then help them get a master's while other companies may prefer to hire more seasoned workers and avoid paying for advanced degrees.

The research process I'd suggest is that you look into companies with openings in the area you'd like to develop skills, and see what companies may fit some of these criteria. It takes a certain amount of business savvy, and it helps to network with peers in other industries to see what the status quo is.

Most HR is prepared to tell you up front about most of these things, so it's also useful to be up front if this is a fixed requirement for you.

1

I agree with Tymek about looking for flexible working arrangements, and I'd also add seeking employers that also offer working remotely as an option.

There are rare companies like Automattic (company behind WordPress.com), where employees work remotely around the globe. They have other various benefits that I would encourage you to look into to see if they would meet your criteria, but I'm using them as an example of unusual work scenario that exist that may be more advantageous to you while in school.

0

I don't think there is a formula which will allow finding a company which will match your quite general requirements - I think it will boil down to finding the right company at the right time.

I would definitely recommend looking into an area of study. The more precise you are with your requirements the easier it is for a company to make a decision if they accommodate them.

Another thing to consider is flexible working arrangements, e.g. working 10 hour days 4/days, a week, every (other) Friday off etc. You could work full time most of the weeks, but agree that at exam times you will get some time off.

It's isn't clear what your priorities are (Is it move to London? Is it salary? Is it time?), but if time is not the priority you could look into finding a full time job and once you are in London you will be able judge better what your long time goals are.

0

Just ask.

From what you said:

I am a Software Engineer with around 5 years of professional experience and a B.Sc. in Information Systems located in Berlin/Germany.

Good, you have experience so you're already valuable - ie you're not a graduate.

In the U.K. (preferably Greater London), how do I find an employer that matches the following description:

Greater London is possible, but be aware that in areas outside London there is strong demand for developers. London has a lot of very good developers, so competition is fierce there - ie an employer outside of London has to give more to attract talent.

offers shorter working hours

See areas outside London

sees the benefit in an employee studying part-time

There's little benefit for a company to have an employee studying part time. Actually, there's no benefit. The benefit is having a better-skilled employee at a lower rate in the future, which is what your trade off would be.

ideally contributing toward tuition fees.

Yes, the tradition is they pay, and you agree to work for them for, say, X years (typically 2) after graduation. If you don't, you repay them the tuition cost.

Should you approach companies directly?

Yes

Go through an (specialized) employment agency?

No. Not unless you're very in-demand (ie a technical manager or you built a blockchain product)

Research the desired study programme/university first?

Sorry, what? You don't know what you want to study? What the heck are you going to tell the company "i just want to study something, will you pay for it?"

You NEED NEED NEED to know what you are going to study. Please stop all your other plans until you work that out. An MBA? A Masters? A Fin-Eng degree, a healing crystal degree - you need to know that. Not knowing it will make you sound like a lunatic to any prospective employer. You need to know the degree, and several target schools - as an example, some companies will sponsor an MBA, but only for a select few schools (Harvard etc). If you get into, idk, a regional school in Europe (ie not INSEAD) they won't support you.

Yes, what you want to find is possible, it will be harder to find in London, easier to find in the Midlands or Scotland. But nobody will just agree to pay your degree when you don't know where the degree is, what it costs, and what it is for.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .