Employers from Starbucks to ConAgra have begun to partner with academic institutions to create specialized programs for their employees. It’s a new spin on an older system, as benefit managers are trying to evaluate the long-term benefits of helping to pay for their workers’ education — and more cost-effective and results-oriented methods of doing so. The big question: do these programs indeed serve to attract more candidates, and does the training necessarily produce workers who are better skilled and interested in staying with their current jobs?

In the past, tuition reimbursement programs were a more unstructured offering — occasionally the classes needed to be work-related in order to qualify for employer reimbursement, depending on an employer’s needs — resulting in a pleasant but not entirely critical employee benefit, with workers paid back for their studies as long as they maintained an acceptable grade level.

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