Earlier this week, Walmart announced a new program to help Walmart associates access associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in business or supply chain management, costing employees only $1 a day. This is exciting for several reasons. First, a company the size of Walmart investing in its workers is going to get the attention of other companies and is likely to inspire them to make similar investments. Second, this program is going to have a significant positive economic impact on many people. Walmart estimates that up to 68,000 of their 1.4 million associates could take advantage of the program in the first five years. Finally, a reliable predictor of whether someone will obtain a college degree is whether that person’s parents graduated from college. If Walmart can help some 68,000 associates gain a college degree, their children —and their children for generations to come — are going to be on a far better economic trajectory and have much greater economic opportunity.
But perhaps the most exciting part of this announcement is that Walmart is also committing to conducting an independent evaluation of its program’s outcomes. Walmart will be partnering with Lumina Foundation to research and measure the impact and effectiveness of the program and to share the findings.
There is much more to be learned about tuition assistance than what we currently know. Although business leaders often complain about historically low take-up rates for such programs, few companies have studied why employees aren’t enrolling in or completing these programs and how their outcomes can be improved. In fact, a report we released with the Institute for Corporate Productivity in 2015-16, revealed that 73 percent of respondents either didn’t know how many frontline workers took advantage of development opportunities or their organizations didn’t track that metric. Conversely, even companies with incredibly positive performance numbers from their education benefit programs are normally unwilling to share the outcomes. As the Director of UpSkill America, I’ve had the opportunity to see some confidential company program performance numbers that are quite impressive, especially around retention, but these numbers only go to bolster the program’s value internally and are never shared more broadly.
So, while Walmart’s latest commitment to its employees’ education is impressive and exciting in its own right, the knowledge this program’s data will contribute to the upskilling community has me equally pleased. Then I hope we can improve tuition assistance programs across all companies, multiplying the impact for a far greater number of workers.
UpSkill America receives funding from Walmart to develop tools and resources to help employers invest in the education, training, and development of their workers.
Tweet While @Walmart’s latest commitment to its employees’ education is impressive in its own right, the knowledge this program’s data will contribute to the #upskilling community is just as exciting.
Tweet Although business leaders complain about low take-up rates for employer-sponsored education programs, few companies have studied why this is the case. Now @Walmart is taking the lead on figuring out how these outcomes can be improved.
Tweet As we continue to learn from @Walmart’s example, “I hope we can improve tuition assistance programs across all companies, multiplying the impact for a far greater number of workers.” @Jaimen8r, Director @upskillamerica
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UpSkill America is an employer-led movement that promotes training and advancement practices to help workers progress in their careers and move into better-paying jobs. UpSkill America is an initiative of the Economic Opportunities Program.
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