Walmart has announced that it will now pay 100 percent of the college tuition and book costs for its around 1.5 million employees in the United States. The decision will be applicable from August 16. The retail giant is the largest private employer in the country and this announcement has been to attract as well as retain talent in a tight job market. Most employers are facing a tough time while retaining their workforce after the pandemic. They are announcing several perks to attract new workers as life is limping back to normalcy with more and more people being vaccinated for the Covid-19. As the number of coronavirus cases is depleting, all major offices are opening and trying to reach their full strength. But they are short of workers as several companies had laid off employees when the pandemic struck and led to the lockdown. Now when things are back to normal, employees are not willing to return. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the retail industry had around 974,000 unfulfilled jobs in the month of May. Because of this scarcity of workers, Walmart had raised the minimum wage of around 425,000 employees.
The move was intended at retaining current workers. After the raise, Walmart workers are now getting at USD 13 an hour. The minimum wage given by the retail giant is USD 11 an hour. This was below that what is being paid by its competitors such as Amazon and Target. Hourly starting wages given by these companies are considerably higher than Walmart. Other retailers are also increasing wages, offering referral bonuses and giving more benefits as they continue to hunt for more employees. Meanwhile, the new announcement made by Walmart will be applicable to some schools in the country. The academic partners for this program include likes of University of Arizona and Southern New Hampshire University. The company said that the number of academics partners has now increased to 10 as it recently added four more. The new partners include Johnson & Wales University and the University of Arizona. They will offer more certificate options and degrees in areas like business administration. These partners will also provide degrees in cybersecurity and the supply chain. In order to get benefits of the program, participants need to be full-time or part-time employees at the retail giant. With the help of these initiatives, Walmart is apparently trying to prepare workers for the jobs of the future.
The company also said that it will drop its ongoing USD 1 per day fee for workers who are part of its Live Better U education program. Under this program, the fee was paid by workers of Sam’s Club and Walmart who were willing to pursue a course and earn a degree. The program was launched in the year 2018. According to the company, there were around 52,000 workers who took part in the program. Out of them, around 8,000 have already graduated. Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart said that the decision of eradicating the USD 1 fee will remove the financial barrier faced by some employees while getting enrolled for the program. “We want to give them an opportunity to grow at Walmart. This will help them build better lives not for themselves but also for their families. The decision is just another way to support our workers. We have tried to remove the barriers that very often keep your workers away from learning. This is one of the largest investments on the education of the American workforce,” Stomski said.