Walmart Entices High School Workers with Education Perks

Employee educational benefits include debt-free college degrees.

June 06, 2019

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – In this tight labor market, Walmart wants to hire high school students and is enticing them with pledges of financial help with college education, according to CNBC.com.

Walmart is the nation’s largest private employer more than 1.5 million workers. This week, the big box chain announced plans to expand its existing college-education program and help employees get a college education without staggering student debt as a way to attract high school workers.

According to Walmart, high school employees will now have access to:

  • Jobs within Walmart with scheduling options for flexibility
  • Free ACT and SAT prep courses
  • Up to seven hours of free college credit through Walmart’s “Live Better U’s College Start” program
  • A debt-free college degree through “Live Better U” (upon completing high school) in three fields from six nonprofit universities 

Today, less than 25,000 of Walmart workers are high school students, the company said. It is often hard to work around a high schooler’s class schedules, said Julie Murphy, executive vice president of Walmart’s U.S. people division. But, “we see this as a pipeline we can leverage that we currently aren’t leveraging today,” she said.

A year ago, Walmart began subsidizing education costs for employees who haven’t yet earned college degrees. “Live Better U” is a tuition reimbursement and education program that helps large employers extend education benefits, including tuition reimbursement, to workers. Walmart workers, who are accepted into the program, contribute $1 per day, for 365 days each year, toward their education, so long as they’re enrolled, and Walmart pays the rest.

Tuesday’s announcement expands the program to as many as 5,000 additional workers each year, who will be eligible for $1,500 awards. Walmart also added three schools to the program: Southern New Hampshire University, Purdue University Global and Wilmington University, which join the University of Florida, Brandman University and Bellevue University.

The company also is adding 14 technology degrees and certificates, including computer science, cybersecurity, computing technology and a certificate for Java programming. When the program launched last year, employees were required to work toward an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business or supply chain management. The goals are for employees to acquire the skills Walmart will need in the future and for Walmart to engage and retain employees.

Last year, the company expected as many as 68,000 employees to sign up for the new educational benefit over the first four to five years. About 7,500 people have enrolled to date.

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