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Should Employers Pay for the Continued Education of Project Managers?

Why would you as an employer want to pay for the continuing education of your project managers? What value does continuing education bring to your company? These are common questions for construction business owners that are assessing the value of paying for an employee’s graduate education.

With profit margins slimming, a logical way to reduce overhead expenses would be to reduce and/or eliminate education benefits.  While on the surface this cost cutting effort may seem reasonable, the consequences of having an employee stagnant in their life-long learning may turn this savings into a cost. This cost could potentially continue to grow as the construction industry competition increases, software systems complicate the construction landscape and projects increase in their complexity. With the current expectation that entry-level construction professionals earn a construction management undergraduate degree, the concept of continued learning is now turning toward graduate level education.

A logical question is how does a graduate degree bring value to a business, particularly a construction entity? Before answering that question it is important to look back at history. The construction management profession, as a degreed profession, has grown over the past 30 years from a minority of construction managers, to a majority of construction management personnel. At this point it is widely accepted that an incoming construction professionals must earn a degree in construction management and have the basic management and technical knowledge this degree offers. The historical model of construction professionals being tradesmen that work their way up to project management staff has now been replaced by formally educated professionals that are more management focused, rather than technically trade savvy. While some may agree or disagree with this new model, the fact is construction management is now considered a degreed profession, where young men and women are taught the on-site aspects of construction during their first few years after graduating college.

This trend toward formally educated professionals to manage construction projects has now led to graduate-level degrees being offered in construction management. This degree is focused on the business aspect of construction, while the undergraduate degree teaches the management and technical aspect of construction management.

Some will say that once you have an employee that earns a master’s degree they will just move onto another company or expect higher compensation. Others might say that if you do not demand continued education from your employees, then they will stay and not bring value to your organization.  Either way you look at it, continued education is the key to continued business success.

Published on May 20, 2015

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