Walmart Inc (NYSE:WMT) announced it will cover the full cost of college tuition and books for its roughly 1.5 million full and part-time employees, as of August 16.
The largest private company in the U.S. also said it will eliminate the current one-dollar-a-day fee paid by associates of Walmart and its subsidiary Sam’s Club.
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The announcement comes at a critical moment. Consumer demand is skyrocketing as the U.S. economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, exacerbating the national job crisis.
The initiative is seen as a way of palliating the job sector's struggles to recruit and retain workers.
Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart, was quoted as saying on USA Today: “This investment is another way we can support our associates to pursue their passion and purpose while removing the barriers that too often keep adult working learners from obtaining degrees.”
For many years, Walmart has been criticized for thousands of its workers being below the poverty line, and for its below-average pay compared to that of other retailers like Amazon Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN), Kroger Co (NYSE:KR), and Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT).
This summer alone, around 28,000 employees have been incorporated into Walmart’s new educational plans, while 8,000 have graduated after the 2018 implementation of college degree support, skills training, and similar certificate programs.
Walmart also assured that this educational contribution is linked to its growth areas and that the company is looking at adding programs in business administration, supply chain, and cybersecurity.
Luring Potential Employees
As informed by USA Today, “workers have not returned to work amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic for multiple reasons, including concerns over COVID-19, child care, and more.”
This has prompted several employers across different industries to offer perks, benefits, and juicy wages to lure candidates back into employment.
In this light, Stomski says, “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.”
The initiative comprises 10 academic partners for Walmart and Sam’s Club employees, including the University of Arizona, Johnson & Wales University, and the University of Denver. Participants in the program must continue to be part-time or full-time employees.
Walmart and Amazon are part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders’ families