- Disney Aspire, a new program announced by the Walt Disney Co., seeks to offer the company's hourly workers access to college education and beyond. The program will pay 100% of tuition in advance as well as reimburse learners' application fees and any required materials. Disney said the program will remove the worry over paying to start school or continue educational pathways.
- In a partnership with Guild Education, the company's working learners will have access to an assortment of degree paths, from high school equivalency to ESL and vocational training as well as bachelor's and master's programs. Educational options will be available to cast members regardless of the education's relevance to their role at Disney.
- Guild Education staff will work with hourly employees to help them navigate the process from application through completion, providing coaching at every phase when needed. The company plans to continue to expand the Disney Aspire program in accordance with employee feedback.
Colleges would be wise to engage with businesses of all sizes to capture some of these blossoming education benefits while the economy is humming. Many companies are providing free to low-cost learning opportunities in an effort to recruit new hires, retain employees and create a manager pipeline.
A number of giant corporations this year announced plans to foot the bill for college tuition. Among them, FedEx said it will provide the 11,000 workers at its Memphis hub access to the more than 60 undergraduate and graduate online degree programs as well as other educational resources.
Meanwhile, full-time and part-time U.S. Walmart associates in stores, throughout the supply chain, at the corporate office or at Sam's Club are now eligible for financial and academic assistance to earn an associate or a bachelor's degree in business or supply chain management.
Businesses that are struggling to find qualified white- and blue-collar workers may end up helping colleges and universities launch new programs and enroll hundreds, even thousands, of students. Tech companies especially are increasingly offering training and some are providing financial resources and even curriculum for in-demand courses.