Walmart will sponsor college education for its 1.4 million US employees

Walmart raised its base pay to $11 an hour this year, while its competitor Target reportedly said that it would pay its workers a minimum of $15 per hour


                            Walmart will sponsor college education for its 1.4 million US employees

The multinational retail corporation, Walmart, on Wednesday announced that it will offer subsidized higher education for all of its 1.4 million employees working in the United States. The employees reportedly include full-time, part-time and salaried Walmart and Sam's Club workers, according to CNBC.

The retail firm, which is the world's biggest employer, said that the cost to workers will be just $1 per day. Walmart's senior manager of communications, Erica Jones, said that the small investment is the firm's attempt to increase completion rates.

Jones, in a statement to CNBC Make It, said: "What research has found is that, when people have a personal investment in their education and in empowering and engaging themselves, they're more apt to finish. So that $1 a day is kind of that skin in the game. They're essentially having their education paid for but it's also their own investment."

Maria Mor (L) and Blanca Odino (R) restock a display at a Walmart store as they prepare for Black Friday shoppers on November 24, 2015 in Miami, Florida (Getty Images)
Maria Mor (L) and Blanca Odino (R) restock a display at a Walmart store as they prepare for Black Friday shoppers on November 24, 2015 in Miami, Florida (Getty Images)

Reports state that Walmart employees can choose to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in business or supply chain management from the University of Florida, Brandman University and Bellevue University. All of these universities are nonprofit schools, which are selected for their high graduation rates among working students, as well as their online offerings.

The program also intends to connect the workers with an education coach who will connect with them once a week for the duration of the program in an attempt to assist them with school applications and to explain the forms of financial aid which they can avail. The coach will also ensure that the students are on track to graduate on time.

"That's one other way that this program goes that extra step to ensure that the associates have the support that's going to get them across the finish line," Jones added. The communications manager said that the emphasis on the workers completing their course is not just beneficial for the employee themselves, but it also ensures that the firm gets a return on its investment, according to reports.

"A successful, well-trained, engaged workforce is one of the most important ways that Walmart's going to win the future of retail," Jones said. 

Jaime Vado fixes a display in the isle at a Walmart store as they prepare for Black Friday shoppers on November 24, 2015 in Miami, Florida (Getty Images)
Jaime Vado fixes a display in the isle at a Walmart store as they prepare for Black Friday shoppers on November 24, 2015 in Miami, Florida (Getty Images)

"When we talk to [our associates] about what they want to do and what's preventing them from going back and pursuing their degree, you know, cost is one of the biggest things that comes up," Jones added. "So we wanted to provide affordable access and remove as many barriers as possible."

Other multinational organizations like Starbucks, Chipotle, McDonald's and Amazon have also rolled out similar educational benefits for their workers this year. 

Walmart CEO Greg Foran, in a statement, said: "Investing in the personal and professional success of our associates is vital to Walmart's future success. We know training and learning opportunities empower associates to deliver for customers while growing and advancing in their careers."

The retailer recently faced criticism for its anti-union policies and for its depressingly low wages. Walmart raised its base pay to $11 an hour this year, while its competitor Target reportedly said that it would pay its workers a minimum of $15 per hour.