Retail behemoth Walmart is earmarking more than $1 billion across the next five years to help its employees in the U.S. further their education in a move to cover tuition and books, per a Walmart press release on Tuesday (July 27).
“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,” Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart, said in the release.
“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,” Stomski added.
Walmart is committing to cover 100 percent of tuition for colleges as well as the cost of books for its workers through its Live Better U (LBU) education program, according to the release.
“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.”
Walmart also is adding four academic partners — Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver and Pathstream, per the press release. The new partners add to existing partners — Brandman University, Penn Foster, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University and Voxy EnGen, according to the press release.
The retail giant indicated in the press release that Walmart is setting its sights on getting rid of the pressure of education debt. Student loan debt in the country exceeds $1.7 trillion. Since Walmart introduced LBU three years ago, over 52,000 workers took part and 8,000 have graduated, according to the release.
“As the company making one of the nation’s largest investments in education for America’s workforce, Walmart is setting a new standard for what it looks like to prepare workers for the jobs of the future,” Guild Education CEO and Co-Founder Rachel Carlson said. “Walmart is creating growth opportunities for their workforce and preparing them for the future of work.”