Walmart's new education program was created to help more of its associates go to college
As part of an ongoing training and education initiative, Walmart Inc. has introduced an associate education benefit that will facilitate employees’ enrollment in college and ultimate graduation. The program was created in partnership with education benefits platform Guild Education.
Under the new program, all Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club associates will be able to pursue affordable, high-quality associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in business or supply chain management. 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, all nonprofit schools with established track records of enabling adult learners to succeed.
“Investing in the personal and professional success of our associates is vital to Walmart’s future success,” noted Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran. “We know training and learning opportunities empower associates to deliver for customers while growing and advancing in their careers.”
Program highlights include:
Affordability: The associate contribution toward a college degree would be just $1 a day, while Walmart will subsidize the cost of tuition, books and fees, eliminating the need for student loan debt and addressing one the biggest hurdles that prevents people from returning to college. Further, associates can earn college credit for paid training at Walmart Academies, saving them time and money in completing their degree.
Relevance: Having selected universities with a focus on adult learners, Walmart is working with the educational institutions to tailor curricula to relevant skills for jobs and advancement across industries.
Accessibility: The universities have both selective and open-access programs, under which all Walmart associates who apply for admission have the chance to be accepted, and a programmatic dedication to high graduation rates for students.
Support: Associates will work with Guild Education coach on everything from the application and enrollment process to selecting the appropriate 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, CEO and co-founder of Denver-based 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.”
Additionally, the Lumina Foundation will research and measure the impact and effectiveness of the program, and share its findings with the mega-retailer.
“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,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of the Indianapolis-based foundation, whose mission is to expand student access to, and success in, higher education.
Further educational and training offerings from Walmart include covering the complete cost for associates and eligible family members to earn a high school diploma or GED; giving access to professional development courses such as college prep, leadership training and ESL; and enabling access to tuition discounts, financial aid assistance and education coaching across Guild’s broader network of more than 80 accredited, nonprofit university partners, including Georgia Tech, Columbia University and Purdue University.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates more than 11,700 stores under 65 banners in 28 countries, and ecommerce websites, employing about 2.3 million associates worldwide.