A recent New York Times article reported that Wal-Mart will begin working with various educational institutions to help its associates earn college credit. The announcement was made in front of 4,000 invited employees last week at its on-campus arena on Wal-Mart’s Arkansas headquarters. Here are some key points:
- The university will offer eligible employees 15 percent price reductions on tuition, and Wal-Mart will invest $50 million over three years in other tuition assistance for the employees who participate.
- The partnership with American Public University, a for-profit school with about 70,000 online students, will allow some Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club employees to earn credits in areas like retail management and logistics for performing their regular jobs.
- Wal-Mart estimates that about 50 percent of its employees in the United States have a high school diploma or the equivalent but have not earned a college degree. With the average full-time employee being paid $11.75 an hour, it was unclear how many of them will be able to take advantage of the new program.
- The program will initially allow about 200,000 employees in positions like cashier, department manager and distribution center unloader to accrue credits for training they already receive in their jobs.
- With the work credits and tuition discount, an associate’s degree for a Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club cashier would cost about $11,700 and a bachelor’s degree about $24,000.
- Wal-Mart executives said it decided to work with an online university instead of a brick-and-mortar school after surveying more than 32,000 of its employees and learning that most of them wanted the scheduling flexibility afforded by online classes.