Walmart on Tuesday announced it will pay 100% of college tuition and books for employees.
Starting Aug. 16, a $1 a day fee previously charged to participating Walmart and Sam’s Club employees will be removed, making all education programs paid for by Walmart through its Live Better U (LBU) education program, the company said.
“This means approximately 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates in the U.S. can earn college degrees or learn trade skills without the burden of education debt,” the company said in a news release.
Walmart has 134 stores and 34,449 employees in Oklahoma as of May 20, a company spokeswoman said.
Workers can choose from 10 academic partners, including the University of Arizona, the University of Denver, Purdue University Global and Southern New Hampshire University, the Washington Post reported.
More than 52,000 employees have participated and 8,000 have graduated since 2018, the newspaper reported.
“As the largest U.S. private employer, Walmart is committing to invest nearly $1 billion over the next five years in career-driven training and development,” the Walmart release said.
“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,” said Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart.
“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.”
The LBU program was initially designed after consulting with experts, reviewing other employer provided education programs, and studying the research around what helps drive completion rates among adult working learners, the company said.
“This helped guide the initial $1 a day approach, but the economy and job market have changed, and Walmart is always looking for new ways to encourage more associates to pursue further education,” the release said.
“We’re also excited to add in-demand college degree and certificate options in business administration, supply chain and cybersecurity. These additional offerings join a robust catalog of programs to set associates up for new career opportunities,” Stomski said.
“Our education offerings tie directly to our growth areas at Walmart, and what better way to fill the pipeline of future talent than with our own associates.”
With fiscal year 2021 revenue of $559 billion, Walmart employs 2.2 million associates worldwide.