Walmart to pay employees to go to college

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Walmart to pay employees to go to college

By Gina Acosta - 05/30/2018
The new programs are available to full-time, part-time and salaried Walmart U.S. store, supply chain, home office and Sam’s Club associates.

Walmart is launching a new initiative it hopes will help employees stay with the company.

The retailer announced at its annual shareholders meeting in Bentonville, Ark., that it will begin subsidizing the cost of higher education for its employees who've yet to earn a college degree. 

In partnership with Guild Education, a leading education benefits platform, Walmart associates will be able to access associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in Business or Supply Chain Management. Under the program, which will be made available to all Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club associates, Walmart will subsidize the cost of higher education, beyond financial aid and an associate contribution equivalent to $1 a day. Degrees will be offered through the University of Florida, Brandman University and Bellevue University – nonprofit schools selected for their focus and strong outcomes on serving working adult learners.

“Investing in the personal and professional success of our associates is vital to Walmart’s future success. We know training and learning opportunities empower associates to deliver for customers while growing and advancing in their careers,” said Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart U.S.

Under the program, the associate contribution toward a college degree would be just $1 a day. Walmart will subsidize the cost of tuition, books and fees, eliminating the need for student loan debt and addressing one the biggest hurdles that keep people from returning to college.

“Walmart’s announcement this morning that it was offering significant assistance for college, which is intended to eliminate the need for student loans for its employees who choose to participate by paying $1 per month, is another example of the aggressive investing the company is undertaking in its employees,” stated Moody’s Lead Retail Analyst Charlie O’Shea.

In addition, associates can jumpstart their path to completion by earning college credit for paid training at Walmart Academies. Hundreds of thousands of associates have already undergone skills training equivalent to more than $210 million in college credits. This will save associates both time and money in completing their degree.

Walmart selected universities with a specialized focus on serving working adult learners and top outcomes for the working adult demographic. In addition, Walmart is collaborating with these universities to tailor curriculum to relevant skills for jobs and advancement across industries for today and in the future.

Working with three universities that include both selective and open-access programs, Walmart provides all associates a place to start. The goal is for all associates who apply for admission to be accepted. These universities have a programmatic dedication to high graduation rates for their students.

From day one, associates will receive support from a Guild Education coach on everything from the application and enrollment process to selecting the appropriate degree. This kind of academic counseling has been shown to help students complete their degree.

“Walmart has kicked off what might be the nation’s most scalable approach to creating educational opportunity for America’s workforce, now available to its U.S. associates and their families,” said Rachel Carlson, chief executive officer and co-founder of Guild Education. “Walmart is also leading innovation at the intersection of workforce development and higher education by helping associates earn college credit for their on-the-job training.”

Walmart is also committed to an independent evaluation of the outcome of its new offering. The Lumina Foundation has agreed to research and measure the impact and effectiveness of the program and will work with the Walmart team to share findings.

“Walmart is making a significant investment in its workforce that will not just help the company, but help shift how our society moves toward more affordable and accessible pathways for individuals to be recognized and rewarded for their work-based skills and knowledge, resulting in high-quality, relevant credentials. We applaud Walmart’s efforts,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of the Lumina Foundation.

ADDITIONAL EDUCATIONAL AND TRAINING OFFERINGS

Walmart’s new education program underscores the importance of education in helping associates prepare for the future. College degrees in supply chain management or business are parts of a broader approach to preparing the workforce to succeed today and into the future. Initiatives include:

  • Developing a broad suite of offerings across roles and levels to help associates from frontline to executive levels develop job-related skills for advancement.
  • Covering the complete cost for associates and eligible family members for earning a high school diploma or GED.
  • Offering associates and eligible family members have access to tuition discounts, financial aid assistance and education coaching across Guild’s broader network of more than 80 accredited, nonprofit university partners, including schools such as The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Columbia University and Purdue University. These institutions are made available through EdX.
  • Giving access to professional development courses including college prep, leadership training and ESL.

These programs are available to full-time, part-time and salaried Walmart U.S. store, supply chain, home office and Sam’s Club associates.

Walmart has more than 11,700 stores under 65 banners in 28 countries and eCommerce websites. With fiscal year 2018 revenue of $500.3 billion, Walmart employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. 

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