Big Box retailer Walmart is expanding a program that would pay the college tuition and book costs of its U.S. workers at certain partner institutions in an effort to attract prospective employees to the company.
The program, called the “Live Better U” initiative, will be dropping a previous requirement that required workers to pay $1 a day to participate, virtually making the program free to join, according to a Wednesday report from CNN.
The program, which first began in 2018, is reportedly adding four new academic partners, including the University of Arizona and the University of Denver, according to a statement from the company regarding the program.
In an effort to help decrease the growing student debt nationwide, Walmart announced it will begin offering free college tuition and books to its 1.5 million U.S. employees, effective Aug. 16. https://t.co/ZQCv8V5d85
— NPR (@NPR) July 28, 2021
Walmart is also pledging to commit around $1 billion of the next five years in “career-driven training and development” for their employees, according to the statement.
“We are creating a path of opportunity for our associates to grow their careers at Walmart, so they can continue to build better lives for themselves and their families,” Senior Vice President of Learning and Leadership Lorriane Stomski said in a statement released by the company. (RELATED: Walmart Upping Pay For Employees With Higher Living Costs On The Coasts)
Stomski also said in the statement that the investment would allow their employees to “pursue their passion and purpose while removing the barriers that too often keep adult working learners from obtaining degrees.”
Walmart announced that it will fully cover the cost of college tuition and books for employees participating in its Live Better U education program, which currently has 28,000 enrolled associates. https://t.co/KUfZRzyHYS
— Axios (@axios) July 27, 2021
Employees who participated in the program reportedly were twice as likely to earn a promotion and would be retained by the company at a “significantly higher rate” than others, Stomski told CNN.
Changes to the program, including the elimination of the $1-a-day fee, would begin on Aug. 16, according to the statement.
The company has made several moves to attract and retain new workers during the coronavirus pandemic, which included raising the wages of nearly half a million frontline associates in February after reporting record revenue in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Walmart was also one of several companies that offered major cash bonuses and incentives to prospective employees in March 2020.