Walmart announced on Tuesday that it will “pay 100% of college tuition and books” for its employees seeking additional education through the company’s Live Better U (LBU) program. The company states that 1.5 million employees will be able to earn college degrees or learn trade skills at zero cost to themselves. Previously, the LBU program was offered at low costs but Walmart workers still shoulders part of the education costs themselves.
Walmart says it is committed to “eliminating the burden of education debt” by investing “nearly $1 billion over the next five years in career-driven training and development.”
The company added that starting on August 16, it will eliminate the $1 daily fee that employees have been paying for the education program, “making all education programs paid for by Walmart.” The company also previously offered discounts on college textbooks, but now says it will cover their cost completely.
“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,” Walmart states.
Our Live Better U program just got better. We’re proud to announce we’ll now pay 100% of college tuition and books for our associates seeking additional education, a planned investment of nearly $1 billion over the next five years. https://t.co/a4GTT9dTmu pic.twitter.com/wxx3xCmWg0
— Walmart Inc. (@WalmartInc) July 27, 2021
“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,” said Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart.
“We’re also excited to add in-demand college degree and certificate options in business administration, supply chain and cybersecurity,” Stomski continued. “These additional offerings join a robust catalog of programs to set associates up for new career opportunities.”
“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,” Stomski added.
The company says its LBU program was launched in 2018, after consulting with experts, reviewing other employer-provided education programs, and studying the research around what helps drive completion rates among adult working learners.
Since the launch, more than 52,000 employees have participated in the program, with 8,000 having already graduated.
Moreover, Walmart says it will add four academic partners: Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver, and Pathstream. Additionally, the company is already partnered with Brandman University, Penn Foster, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University, and Voxy EnGen.
“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,” said Rachel Carlson, CEO and co-founder of Guild Education, a company that helps businesses manage their education assistance benefits.
“Walmart is creating growth opportunities for their workforce and preparing them for the future of work,” Carlson added.