June 5, 2019
Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, announced on June 4 that it will offer free college SAT and ACT prep courses to its high school-age workers, as well as several online, general education college classes at no cost through Guild Education, The Chicago Tribune reported.
Walmart estimates about 25,000 people under the age of 18 work at its stores—a fraction of its 1.3 million person U.S. workforce. The company is looking to attract and retain more workers, right from the start of their careers.
The new offer represents an expansion of a program Walmart launched last year called Live Better U, which provides affordable access to a college degree for full-time and part-time workers who have been with the company at least 90 days.
Based in Denver, Guild Education offers “education as a benefit” to corporate workers through a program that costs $1 a day. Classes are sourced through nonprofit universities with online programs that have had success working with adult learners.
Guild, which is a startup says it is planning on expanding the number of degrees it offers—beyond business and supply management to an additional 14 that will include cybersecurity and computer science. Walmart says these programs will help provide workers with skills it needs in the future.
About 7,500 adult workers are already enrolled in the program. Walmart expects 68,000 of its employees to be enrolled in the next several years.
Walmart is competing with other major employers to find and retain higher quality, entry-level employees in a historically strong labor market.
The unemployment rate dropping to a five-decade low of 3.6% in the most recent jobs report issued by the Labor Department, and the average hourly pay rose 3.2% compared with a year ago. The economic expansion, which has fueled 103 straight months of hiring, is set to become the longest in history next month.
High schoolers represent an increasing challenging group for recruiters. In fact, only 26.4% of teens are expected to have a job by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s down from 34% in 2014.
Research contact: @ChiTribBiz