Walmart announced on Tuesday that it will pay for college tuition and books for its associates as an incentive to attract more people to work for the company and grow their careers.
The initiative, according to Walmart, is part of its Live Better U education program. The company is investing nearly $1 billion over the next five years for career-driven training and development.
Previously, the retailer charged its employees $1 per day to participate in the program, and the company would pay for the rest of the educational costs. However, this fee will be removed for all associates beginning on Aug. 16, effectively making all education programs paid for by Walmart.
“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,” Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart, said in a statement.
“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,” she added.
The Live Better U program was established three years ago to assist employees with moving up in the company, according to The Washington Post.
The workers are able to select from 10 academic partners, including the University of Arizona, the University of Denver, Purdue University Global and Southern New Hampshire University, according to the Post.
More than 52,000 Walmart employees have reportedly taken part in the program since 2018, with upwards of 8,000 graduating.
Walmart announced last month that it plans to give 740,000 of its employees smartphones as part of a new app initiative.
The app, called “Me@Walmart,” will provide employees with a service to complete daily tasks, tend to customers and plan for life outside of work.
The company said employees will receive new Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro smartphones which can be used while on the clock and for personal use.