Walmart is helping its employees become “lifetime learners” through its Live Better U educational program.
Through Live Better U’s partnership with Guild Education, Walmart associates have access to more than 50 programs through six different nonprofit universities for only $1 per day.
“These are basically online college programs,” Walmart Director of Media Relations Michelle Malashock said. “You can go through them, get an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, in some cases, they are certificate programs like Java programming or data engineering programs. It’s just a dollar a day and that covers your tuition, your books and your fees.”
The program also offers free high school diploma completion programs and a pathway for high school students to gain up to seven hours of free college credit, free ACT/SAT prep and flexible job scheduling.
“There’s a whole bunch of different aspects to the program but I would say those are our main ones,” Malashock said. “It was about meeting our associates where they are… We know a lot of Americans don’t graduate college but still have a tremendous amount of debt… So basically, we designed a program that solves a lot of that.”
The Live Better U program launched in September 2018 and since its inception associates have completed more than 36,000 credits worth a total of $17 million.
“Our program helps with stability. So obviously with a dollar a day, you know what you’re going to get, you’re not going to deal with rising tuition prices or rising fees,” Malashock said. “It’s been really inspiring to see how this has really taken off in the company.”
There are 104 Arizonans in the program who have earned a total of 855 credits worth a total value of $385,000.
“They’ve made it really easy,” said Abil Zafari, the co-manager of a Walmart in Safford, Arizona and Live Better U member. “The workforce is changing and the future, there’s so much technology involved. The workplace won’t be the same… [Live Better U] just makes overall a more productive workforce [that] understands technology and the way we communicate.”
Zafari has worked for Walmart for 12 years and said he enjoys working for the company because of the growth opportunity and investment it puts into its employees.
“The company is investing in us so we’re able to become better and more skilled,” he said.
According to Malashock, the company is focusing on high program completion rates because they want associates to achieve their full potential.
“We want a workforce that is really always striving to learn more because that’s how we’re going to stay relevant in the future,” she said. “As we get our associates ready for the future of work, we could be providing this benefit to our future CEO. Our CEO started loading trucks for Walmart and now he runs the world’s largest retailer. We believe that by investing in our associates, we’re providing a pipeline for talent.”
The program is available to all Walmart employees and there is no requirement for them to stay with the company once finishing it.
“There’s no requirement to stay with the company after you complete your degree but we certainly hope they will,” Malashock said. “At the end of the day, I think it’s all about engaging your workforce and giving them the opportunities to grow their career with you… It’s a great way to engage associates and we hope that it will ultimately help with retention.”
For more about the program, click here.
Photo courtesy of Walmart