미국 최대 유통체인 월마트가 자사의 교육지원 프로그램을 통해 8월 16일부터 자사 직원들을 대상으로 100% 대학교 학비와 교재비용 등 학비를 전액 지원하겠다고 27일 밝혔다.
미연방하원의원들의 대학 등록금 5만불 탕감안이 논의되고 있는 가운데 나온 월마트의 파격적인 지원책은 학생들과 자녀들의 등록금을 부담을 떠안고 있는 학부모들에게는 큰 희소식이 아닐 수 없다.
월마트는 “8월 16일부터 150만명의 정규직 및 시간제 직원들에게 대학교 학비와 교재 비용을 전액 지급, 앞으로 5년간 10억달러(약 1조1550억원)를 투입할 계획이다”고 전했다. 미국의 월마트나 자회사인 샘스클럽 직원들은 앞르로 교육비 걱정없이 대학 학위를 따고 각종 기술교육을 받을 수 있게 됐다.
월마트는 3년 전부터 자사직원들을 대상으로 하루 1달러만 지불하면 나머지 비용을 월마트가 부담, 교육기회를 획기적으로 늘렸다. 그러나 이제부터 월마트 직원들은 그 1달러도 면제받아 교육비 전액을 지원받는다.
로레인 스톰스키 (Lorraine Stomski) 월마트 교육 및 리더십 부문 수석 부사장은 “월마트 직원들이 경력을 키울 수 있는 기회의 통로를 만들어서 지속적으로 그들 자신과 가족들의 보다 더 나은 삶을 구축할 수 있도록 할 것이다”고 밝혔다.
Today, Walmart announced it will pay 100% of college tuition and books for associates through its Live Better U (LBU) education program. Starting Aug. 16, the $1 a day fee will be removed for associates, making all education programs paid for by Walmart. This means approximately 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates in the U.S. can earn college degrees or learn trade skills without the burden of education debt. As the largest U.S. private employer, Walmart is committing to invest nearly $1 billion over the next five years in career-driven training and development.
“We are creating a path of opportunity for our associates to grow their careers at Walmart, so they can continue to build better lives for themselves and their families,” said Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart. “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.”
“We’re also excited to add in-demand college degree and certificate options in business administration, supply chain and cybersecurity. These additional offerings join a robust catalog of programs to set associates up for new career opportunities,” Stomski said. “Our education offerings tie directly to our growth areas at Walmart, and what better way to fill the pipeline of future talent than with our own associates.”
In addition, Walmart will add four academic partners, including Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver and Pathstream. These complement the existing partners: Brandman University, Penn Foster, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University, and Voxy EnGen. Each of these institutions were chosen for their history of success with adult and working learner programs as well as their focus on degree completion.
Walmart is committed to eliminating the burden of education debt. Cost is a leading barrier for earning a degree with student loan debt in the U.S. topping $1.7 trillion. Since launching LBU in 2018, more than 52,000 associates have participated in the program to date and 8,000 have already graduated. Nearly 28,000 associates have been active in a LBU program this summer.
“As the company making one of the nation’s largest investments in education for America’s workforce, Walmart is setting a new standard for what it looks like to prepare workers for the jobs of the future,” said Rachel Carlson, CEO & co-founder of Guild Education. “Walmart is creating growth opportunities for their workforce and preparing them for the future of work.”
When an associate enrolls in LBU and earns a certificate or degree, they take important steps toward creating a long-term career within the Walmart ecosystem.
Walmart in Each week, approximately 220 million customers and members visit approximately 10,500 stores and clubs under 48 banners in 24 countries and eCommerce websites. With the fiscal year 2021 revenue of $559 billion, Walmart employs 2.2 million associates worldwide.