After the US Congress cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent in December, the airplane manufacturer Boeing announced that it would spend $300 million of its tax savings on corporate giving and employee programs, including a $100 million investment in learning and development over the next several years. The company is deciding how to structure that investment based partly on an internal survey, which found that 39 percent of Boeing employees wanted better technical development and 29 percent wanted new skills for jobs affected by new technology.
Now, we’re starting to see how Boeing is spending that money. The company announced several new education initiatives this week, focused on digital skills development and diversifying the company’s talent pipeline, GeekWire’s Alan Boyle reports:
The initiatives include a partnership with Degreed.com to give employees access to online lessons, certification courses and degree programs. Another initiative will put $6 million into a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and several historically black colleges and universities. That investment will support scholarships, internships and boot-camp programs to help students experience what it’s like to work at Boeing, the company said.
There’ll also be several new programs to help Boeing employees enhance their technical skills and keep up with industry trends. The focus of the first program will be digital literacy, Boeing said.
Boeing’s decision to spend a big chunk of its tax windfall on training and education reflects the growing awareness among US employers of the need to upskill their current workforce to adapt to the evolving requirements of the digital work environment. Numerous large employers have announced new or expanded education benefits in the past few months—most recently, Walmart announced a new college tuition benefit that will enable employees to obtain degrees from certain partner universities in programs relevant to the retail industry, at practically no cost to themselves.
While US companies are returning most of their tax savings to shareholders though stock buybacks or dividends, many are setting aside part of that money to grow their businesses, including through similar investments in the workforce. Our pulse survey on tax reform at CEB, now Gartner, found that among organizations allotting part of their tax savings to HR, 39 percent were investing in employee training, development, and education—the second most common target after pay and benefits. (CEB Total Rewards Leadership Council members can see the full results of that survey here.)