Walmart announces expanded education program, targeting student workers

Walmart has announced that it is targeting new talent from high school students, offering them a low-cost path to a university degree.

Walmart is the largest private employer in the U.S., employing an estimated 1.5 million people. Now the retailer wants to attract workers as the labor market tightens. Tuesday’s announcement also included plans to expand the company’s college-education perks offered since last year.

In 2018, the retail giant announced that it was starting a program that would see it pay for the education of its workers. The company looked to boost employee retention rates.

Under the program, the employer would cover tuition, books, and fees. Once enrolled, an employee only has to part with $1 a day until they complete their studies.

Initially, the program required employees to go for degrees in business or supply chain management. However, the expanded program will now allow workers to study for degrees in 14 new technology-related courses, including computer science and cybersecurity.

In a bid to attract and retain highschoolers, Walmart is offering jobs that include scheduling options. For example, being able to work on a designated day and shift for 13 consecutive weeks.

The company is also offering students free prep courses in ACT and SAT up to 7 hours of free college credit, and a debt-free education leading to a college degree. They are also promising access to graduation bonuses of up to $1,500 that will benefit 5,000 workers in the U.S. yet to acquire a college degree.

Walmart employees have the chance to earn college degrees at six non-profit universities, including Purdue University, University of Florida and Southern New Hampshire University. About 7,500 workers at the retailer have applied and been accepted so far.

Walmart is seeking to attract more students at a time when its rival Amazon has sought to push other firms in the sector to pay higher wages to its workers. The entry wage at Walmart is $11 an hour, while Amazon pays $15. Target Corp recently revealed it would pay $15 by December 2020. While labor groups and politicians have criticized its pay policy, Walmart explained earlier in the year that its hourly average comes to $17.50 when you factor in compensation and other benefits.