In an effort to help curb soaring student loan debts, Walmart announced this week that it will pay 100 percent of college tuition and book costs for its associates, starting Aug. 16. Walmart, the largest U.S. private employer, will drop its existing $1-per-day fee for associates who participate in its Live Better U education program. About 1.5 million part-time and full-time associates of Walmart and its Sam’s Club subsidiary will be eligible to learn new skills and earn college degrees, the company said.
Total Retail's Take: First, kudos to Walmart for making this significant financial investment in its associates' futures. Walmart plans to invest almost $1 billion over the next five years in career training and development for its employees. In addition to the societal good, the program should provide business benefits to Walmart as well. In a tight labor market, Walmart is positioning itself as an attractive option for job seekers as well as its existing associate staff.
High employee turnover rates have long been a problem that has plagued the retail industry, and this issue has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. By investing in its employees' education, which should engender loyalty to the employer, Walmart will save on employee recruiting and training costs, while also forming a stronger and more effective associate base, which ultimately ends up improving the customer experience. Lastly, the stakes keep rising between Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart in their quest to find and retain quality workers. With this latest announcement, Walmart may have given itself the edge in that competition.