The nation’s largest private employer, Walmart, is the latest big corporation to add a college degree as one of its new benefits to employees.
In partnership with Guild Education, Walmart says its employees will be able to access “affordable, high-quality 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 tuition, books and fees, eliminating the need for student loan debt. Employees are required to make a contribution equivalent to $1 a day. Degrees will be offered through the University of Florida, Brandman University and Bellevue University – nonprofit schools. These institutions were selected “for their focus and strong outcomes on serving working adult learners,” Walmart says.
Walmart’s announcement comes as other businesses in the U.S. face a tighter and more competitive labor market. Chains such as Starbucks and Chipotle have started offering similar education benefits to its employees. Walmart executives projects that 68,000 employees might sign up.
The tuition benefit — offered to both part-time staff and full-timers — is the latest move by Walmart to improve employee retention. Earlier this year, it boosted its starting hourly wage to $11. Academic counseling will be provided by Guild Education, which assists large employers with higher education benefits.
Starbucks says expects 25,000 of its employees to graduate from Arizona State University by 2025 under its free, four-year college tuition program.
“Investing in the personal and professional success of our associates is vital to Walmart’s future success,” said Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart U.S., in a statement. “We know training and learning opportunities empower associates to deliver for customers while growing and advancing in their careers.”