Miami Herald

Walmart offering free college tuition and books to its 1.5 million U.S. employees


Walmart will begin offering free college tuition and books to its 1.5 million U.S. employees, the latest effort by the country’s largest private employer to attract and retain workers in a tight labor market.

The retail giant said Tuesday it will invest nearly $1 billion over the next five years in career training and developmen­t programs for workers who want to pursue majors in highdemand fields, such as business administra­tion, supply chain and cybersecur­ity. The company had previously required its Walmart and Sam’s Club workforce to pay $1 a day to be in the program.

“We are creating a path of opportunit­y for our associates to grow their careers at Walmart,” Lorraine Stomski, the company’s senior vice president of learning and leadership, said during a media call. “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.”

Walmart’s Live Better U education program, which will be free beginning Aug. 16, was created three years ago to help employees advance within the company. Workers can choose from 10 academic partners, including the University of Arizona, the University of Denver, Purdue University Global and Southern New Hampshire University. More than 52,000 employees have participat­ed and 8,000 have graduated since 2018.

Walmart has taken steps to boost pay for some hourly workers in recent months, although its starting wage of $11 per hour lags many of its competitor­s; Target, Amazon and Costco all pay at least $15 an hour. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

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