Things are moving pretty fast. In the workplace, anything that can be automated is being automated. Robots are taking over. Artificial intelligence promises to make us all obsolete replace countless corporate functions.

Guild Education The result: Many workers are falling behind.

While most folks are dreading this future, Guild Education embraces it. That’s because the startup out of Colorado takes advantage of this trend by providing advanced education opportunities to employees of member companies.

By supporting the goals and aspirations of employees to achieve a higher level of education or complete a degree, Guild Education hopes to help companies more easily funnel employees who no longer fill a need into skills and knowledge that do. History teaches us evolution sometimes closes doors, but adaptation promises to open new ones. In a knowledge-based world, survival is achieved with brain power.

Investors are listening. The company just raised $8.5 million in Series A funding led by Redpoint, with participation from Social Capital and seed backers Harrison Metal, Cowboy Ventures, and investor and Stanford lecturer Fern Mandelbaum.“It’s no surprise that education is the fastest growing corporate benefit program in the U.S.,” said investor Scott Raney of Redpoint Ventures in a  recent interview.

Guild Education
Guild Education Employees

How does it work?

Guild Education partners with a small group of relatively obscure colleges, such as Bellevue University, Brandman University and Colorado State, which is the most recognizable by far. These relationships translate into discounts for Guild Education, who essentially becomes a reseller of education. Companies pay full price and Guild Education pockets the difference.

Guild Education counts Chipotle as a client and says on its site that Chipotle employees are eligible for up to $5,250 in tuition reimbursement, covering up to 90% of tuition, books and fees and may make employees eligible for up to $5,815 in federal financial aid. Chipotle claims its employees can pay as little as $250 per year to go to college.

Another obvious benefit of offering cheap college degrees is recruiting and retention. Similarly to how health benefits draw more candidates to Starbucks, the opportunity for a degree does similarly. In fact, education as a benefit is the fastest growing strategic recruitment tool for the Fortune 1000.

The site quotes 80 percent annual retention rates for employees utilizing tuition assistance and a 15 percent month over month increase in applicants for employers who offer strategic tuition assistance programs.

Providing better educated employees at a discount, more resumes in recruiting and more loyalty with current staff sounds like a winner, which means Guild Education has competition. Already in the fray are universities that offer online courses directly, as well as companies like Udacity, which offer “nano degrees” for people to learn specific skills like programming for Android, as opposed to getting a full-fledged degree.

The company doesn’t publish pricing, which is custom, based on the specific needs and volume of a customer. Classes are offered at discounts up to 20 percent to employees.

About the Author

joel-cheesman-headshotJoel Cheesman has over 20 years experience in the online recruitment space. He worked for both international and local job boards in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. In 2005, Cheesman founded HRSEO, a search engine marketing company for HR, as well as launching an award-winning industry blog called Cheezhead.

He has been featured in Fast Company and US News and World Report. He sold his company in 2009 to He was employed by EmployeeScreenIQ, a background check company. He is the founder of Ratedly, an iOS app that monitors anonymous employee reviews. He is the father of two children and lives in Indianapolis. Yes, he’s on Twitter and LinkedIn.