For The Moment Walmart is Doing The Right Thing

This is a guest post by Mark Koiler

One story that caught my eye last week was the one reported last Thursday in the New York Times (https://nyti.ms/cdKHnH) where Walmart is planning to offer eligible employees 15% price reductions on college tuition at American Public University (www.apus.edu)  which is a for-profit online university.   This would go for Sam’s club employees as well.

Most of the time Walmart seems to me to be the company that people love to disparage and even hate.   With more than 1,400,000 employees (a number that always staggers me); Walmart has to think about building a better workforce.   Making college more affordable is an excellent way for Wal-mart to help people help themselves, while at the same time perhaps improving the performance of current employees.

The article notes that ‘with the work credits and tuition discounts, an associate’s degree for a Walmart or Sam’s Club cashier would cost about $ 11,700 and a bachelor’s degree about $ 24,000.    While those aren’t incidental costs they are a far cry from what a college education will cost in the United States currently at most 4 year universities.

Many people are of the opinion that education is the key to helping America and Americans stay competitive – and I fully agree with that opinion.    Online universities are increasing in popularity for the obvious reason that they are substantially less expensive.   Of course the college experience is vastly different from the campus environment that young students enjoy when they attend a 2 or 4 year university or college.   The choice for many people today is not to go to college since they cannot afford it AND they could not make the time for it even if they could find a way to pay.

Walmart has hit on something big here.  The time people spend online increases with each passing day.  Offering a college education online is truly a win-win and speaks to the adage (and I paraphrase) – ‘if you want to catch fish you have to go where the fish are’.    1,400,000 employees represent a fine kettle of fish.

I like the idea a lot – how about you?

Mark Kolier is the President of CGSM and blogs at https://blog.cgsm.com.

Category: Leadership

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