Nearly 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates in the U.S. will be able to pursue professional careers in college or learn trade skills without having to worry about educational debt. Walmart announced it will pay 100% of college tuition and books for associates through its Live Better U (LBU) education program.
Starting Aug. 16, the $1 a day fee will be removed for associates, making all education programs paid for by Walmart, according to a press release.
As the largest U.S. private employer, Walmart said that is committing to invest nearly $1 billion over the next five years in career-driven training and development.
“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.”
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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. 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.
“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.”
In addition, Walmart will add four academic partners, including Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver, and Pathstream. These complement the existing partners: Brandman University, Penn Foster, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University, and Voxy EnGen. Each of these institutions was chosen for their history of success with adult and working learner programs as well as their focus on degree completion.
“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 & co-founder of Guild Education. “Walmart is creating growth opportunities for their workforce and preparing them for the future of work.”
Since launching LBU in 2018, more than 52,000 associates have participated in the program to date and 8,000 have already graduated. Nearly 28,000 associates have been active in a LBU program this summer, according to Walmart.