Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) will begin funding college degrees for its employees in the United States in a move to increase its retention rate and counter criticism over its treatment of staff. Walmart currently employs 1.5 million workers who now have the option of pursuing an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree.
According to a Walmart press release, “In partnership with Guild Education, a leading education benefits platform that helps large employers extend education benefits, Walmart associates 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 higher education, beyond financial aid and an associate contribution equivalent to $1 a day.” Degrees will be offered at three institutions, the University of Florida, Brandman University, and Bellevue University.
“Many of our associates don’t have the opportunity to complete a degree,” said Drew Holler, Walmart’s U.S. vice president of people innovation, in an interview. “We felt strongly that this is something that would improve their lives and help us run a better business.”
Associates who choose to pursue a degree through this new education program will receive support and be provided academic guidance from a Guild Education coach on everything from the application and enrollment process to selecting the appropriate degree.
This is not the first time a large company has offered tuition coverage to its employees. Howard Schultz, Starbucks Executive Chairman, said Starbucks collaborated with Arizona State University on February 7, 2017 to offer full tuition coverage for every year of college to earn a bachelor’s degree.