Walmart to help fund college degrees for associates
- Full-time, part-time and salaried U.S. Walmart associates that have worked for at least 90 days in stores, throughout the supply chain, at the corporate office or for Sam's Club are now eligible for financial and academic assistance to earn an associates or bachelor's degree in business or supply chain management from three participating nonprofit universities: University of Florida, Brandman University and Bellevue University.
- The participating universities were chosen because of their focus on adult learning and their graduation rates, Walmart announced Wednesday. The program is being offered in partnership with Guild Education, which will provide weekly academic counseling to associates pursuing degrees.
- Unlike typical tuition reimbursement programs offered through corporations, associates in this new program will only pay out of pocket $1 a day until the completion of their degree while Walmart subsidizes the cost of tuition, books and fees beyond financial aid. Those that have graduated from or are still enrolled in the Walmart Academy program could receive between four and 19 college credits, depending on the degree they are pursuing, said Walmart spokeswoman Erica Jones. She added that the company anticipates 68,000 Walmart employees will enroll in the program over the next five years.
College assistance programs are a growing benefit being offered by retailers and other businesses that are aiming to boost specific skill development and retention within their workforces.
Notably in the retail industry, Starbucks last year began offering full tuition for full- and part-time workers seeking a bachelor's degree from Arizona State University, which has one of the nation's largest online programs. And Best Buy offers full-time employees reimbursement of tuition, fees and textbook costs, up to $3,500 a year for undergraduate and $5,250 for graduate-level coursework.
The program is a part of Walmart's broader push to invest in employee education and training, Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart U.S., said in a statement. "We know training and learning opportunities empower associates to deliver for customers while growing and advancing in their careers," he said.
Employee education has become an increasingly important investment for Walmart. Its academies have graduated more than 400,000 employees since its inception two years ago. And last January, the company joined 20 other retailers and the National Retail Federation to launch the Rise Up credentialing program and pledge to help individuals secure the skills and training they need to prepare them for current and future jobs in the retail sector.
The new program will be evaluated on impact and effectiveness by the Lumina Foundation, which will share its findings with Walmart.
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