‘Stay-Ducation’: Verizon Wireless On-Site College Program Helps Employee-Students Skip The Drive To School
BASKING RIDGE, NJ — Verizon Wireless customer service representatives who want to further their education don’t have to fill up gas tanks to get to class across town. They just walk down the hall or across their corporate campus at the end of their work day to attend college classes at one of nine on-site universities.
Customer service representatives and all other Verizon Wireless employees who work near call center locations are eligible to participate in the company’s tuition-assisted, on-site college degree programs where they can earn associate, bachelor or master’s degrees. All classes are taught by professors or faculty hired by a local participating, accredited university.
Since Verizon Wireless first introduced its tuition assistance program in January 2001 and on-site education programs in September 2005, more than 900 customer service representatives have received their degrees. Many who completed degree programs have been promoted or made lateral moves to other departments to advance their careers within Verizon Wireless, opening up new career opportunities.
“If my experience with tuition assistance and on-site classes could be described with one word, it would be ‘blessing’,” said Julio Donado, customer service tech support representative at Verizon Wireless’ Elgin, Ill., Call Center and a recent MBA graduate. “The affordability and convenience simply cannot be matched. How great is it to finish work at 5:30 p.m. and then simply go downstairs and start class at 6:00 p.m.? It is time-saving, fuel-efficient, and in general helped me succeed with my education. I was ready to pay – or go in to debt for – $24,000 a year for 2 years, but thanks to Verizon Wireless I don’t have any education-related debt. ”
“Our on-site ‘stay-ducation’ programs are yet another demonstration of Verizon Wireless’ commitment to our talented, goal-oriented, performance-driven employees,” said Lou Tedrick, vice president of workforce development for Verizon Wireless. “We’re a great place to work for a lot of reasons and our growing on-site campus program coupled with our generous tuition assistance is one of them.”
“These programs are not only good for employees, they are also good for the business,” said Ms. Tedrick. Retention rates among employees who participated in Verizon Wireless’ tuition assistance program were more than double those of the overall workforce, an important factor in reducing the cost of hiring replacements when experienced employees leave.
Verizon Wireless currently offers on-site programs at nine call centers in Rancho Cordova, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; Ashford Dunwoody and Alpharetta, Ga.; Elgin, Ill.; Dublin, Ohio; Cranberry Woods, Pa.; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; and Salt Lake City, Utah – as well as at five other company offices in New York and New Jersey. Verizon Wireless plans to introduce four more on-site programs at call centers in Chandler, Ariz.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Greenville, S.C.; and Bellevue, Wash. this year, and at 14 additional call center locations around the country by 2010.
Universities partnering with Verizon Wireless include American River Community College, Benedictine University, Bethel College, Centenary College, Devry University, Elgin Community College, Fairleigh Dickinson University, National Louis University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Pima Community College – ITCAP, Raritan Valley Community College, Salt Lake Community College, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Strayer University. For a complete list of current and new programs starting this September, see list below.
Verizon Wireless provides employees with the training, resources and educational development opportunities they need to provide customers the nation’s best wireless network, customer service and sales experience and invests in programs that help employees grow professionally. Verizon Wireless offers tuition assistance, in which employees receive the company’s contribution right upfront, requiring no initial cash outlay from the student. Many companies offer tuition reimbursement, which requires an initial employee cash outlay. In addition, Verizon Wireless’ tuition support of up to $8,000.00 per year is above the industry average. Most companies cap annual tuition reimbursement at $5,250.00 or less for tax purposes.
Verizon Wireless has an impressive 18 percent participation rate in its tuition assistance program. Nearly half of the participants are call center employees, although the benefit is available to all full-time and part-time employees in all departments throughout the company beginning from their first day on the job.
Consistently ranked as one of the best places to work in the United States, Verizon Wireless has been named one of Working Mother magazine’s “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers” for seven years in a row and has been named by Health Magazine as one of 10 U.S. employers to best help women balance their professional and personal responsibilities. For the past seven years, Verizon Wireless has been named one of the nation’s top 125 companies by Training magazine for its continued commitment to employee development and for connecting its training programs to business objectives.
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