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Professional Development: Companies No Longer Paying the Bill

A new survey finds three out of four employers don't reimburse employees for t

As businesses struggled through the recent economic downturn, many were forced to cut benefits for employees. Among financial firms, a large number of employers have stopped paying for continuing education classes for accountants.

A survey from the Robert Half Finance & Accounting firm found just 26 percent of CFOs offer either full or partial reimbursement to their accounting staff for the continuing education classes required to maintain their certifications. Before the financial meltdown, it was a different story. In 2006, 29 percent of companies offered full reimbursement, while an additional 17 percent provided partial reimbursement.

"As the job market strengthens, it becomes more important for companies to offer benefits that help employees advance their careers," said Max Mesmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "A robust professional development program is an attractive incentive for talent recruitment and retention."

It only makes sense in a competitive business environment that staff be kept up to speed on the latest in developments in their field, whether it's finance and accounting standards, legal developments or any of a thousand other areas where businesses need to stay sharp to survive. According to, a pre-recession study conducted by staffing and employment firm Spherion Atlantic Enterprises found 61 percent of employees who receive education or education benefits through their employers were likely to stay at their companies for at least five years. As the economy begins to recover and employers begin to look for more and better talent, it may be prudent to reinstate some of those lost benefits.