Many college students work part-time jobs. And a growing number of full-time employees also study part-time. With the rising cost of tertiary education, online and distance education options are becoming more popular every year for those who want to maintain their current income and benefits while also improving their skills and knowledge.
The statistics speak for themselves. According to the Statistics on Post-School Education and Training in South Africa released this year by the department of higher education and training (DHET), distance learning is now a more embedded feature of the higher education landscape, comprising 34% of total enrolment at educational institutions. The study also shows that part-time enrolment numbers have slightly climbed 6.8% (21 487) since the turn of the decade, from 316 349 in 2009 to 337 836.
Learning How to Successfully Manage Studying While Working Full-Time can be difficult to accomplish, however, taking advantage of the study opportunities your employer has to offer can help you effectively manage a work-study balance.
Employers are becoming increasingly open to the idea of employees dividing their attention between work and education, especially if they feel that your studies will benefit the company in some way. When speaking with your boss about your study plans, our content partner, Hippo.co.za, suggests you find out if your employer will be able to accommodate you in the following ways:
Help with funding
According to digital education company, GetSmarter, over 25% of their online students were funded by their employers. If the course you’re signing up for relates directly to your company’s field of activity, you can ask your company if it has any study assistance programmes or training funds available. For example, the Old Mutual Education Trust awards bursaries for part-time study to members or employees of one of the participating trade unions. Your HR department should be able to facilitate access to the company’s resources for education. Your employer’s contribution may not be enough to cover the total cost of the course, so you may need to look at other sources of funding such as a small Personal Loan or contributions from family.
Be sure to also check which colleges and universities offer bursaries for part-time studies. The National Research Foundation usually has study support available to students wishing to complete a part-time postgraduate degree. Keep an eye on their website for regular upcoming study opportunities.
Check if your employer offers flexi-hours. If they do, you can adjust your schedule accordingly and successfully divide your attention between work and study. For example, you can ask if you can clock in two hours earlier and commit the afternoon to attending your lectures.
If flexi-hours isn’t an option, you can either register for an online course which you can access anytime, or attend after-hour and evening lectures offered by institutions such as the University of the Witwatersrand, University of the Western Cape, and the International Business Training College.
If you’re signing up for a course that runs for a week, you can request absence from work for the period, provided you’ve been employed for at least one year. The subject of study leave is still a grey area in South African labour law and is therefore at the sole discretion of the employer. The company may have a study leave policy, awarding a number of study leave days per annum, or subtracting it from your annual leave.
If you need to relocate temporarily in order to enrol for a course, working remotely is another flexible arrangement you and your employer can consider. The internet and digital communication tools have made it possible for various types of professionals to work away from the office as long as they keep their employer in the loop and deliver quality work on time.
Being able to develop your skills when you’re already employed full-time can help you take the next step up the career ladder. All it takes is developing a complementary balance between work and your studies, and you could be on your way to success.
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