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 high-demand 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 participate in its college education 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.
Walmart’s Live Better U education program 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.