Wal-Mart Offer Online college Degree to employee

Posted by on Jun 04, 2010 | Leave a Comment

Little Rock, Arkansas based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. declared a program with partnership of American Public University on Thursday June 3, 2010 to offer online college degree to its 1.4 million U.S. employee for joining a higher education from an online university.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is one of the world’s largest retailers. American Public University is nationally accredited West Virginia based institution. They provide advanced degrees online which helpful to workers get college degrees.

When workers will join the program, they will get grants from the university for 15% of their tuition costs. Additionally, Wal-Mart said that it will invest up to $50 million over the next three years to provide workers with tuition assistance and other help in completing degrees.

Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright wrote in a memo to employees, “Through this program, you could be eligible to earn college credit for your formal training and job experience. This means if you enroll in a degree program at APU, you could be on a faster track to earning your degree, reducing the length of time you would need to be in school and making the overall cost more affordable.

If workers want to gat college credit for their work at Wal-Mart, workers must be required to have good performance reviews and have been employed full time for at least a year or part time for at least three years.

Wal-Mart said it selected American Public University which offers 70 degree programs, including associate degree, bachelor degree and master degrees in areas such as teaching and business administration, after a survey of 32,000 workers found that 72% favored the flexibility of an online college program. The college charges $250 per credit hour for undergraduate courses.

Wal-Mart government relations chief Leslie Dach said in a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan that the company had examined numerous options like community and state college programs, and concluded that this was the best way to help Wal-Mart workers advance professionally.

Mr. Dach wrote: “While there is broad agreement about the need for more Americans to attain college degrees, we recognize there is a healthy discussion under way about the best way to get there.

Wal-Mart senior director for associate development Alicia Ledlie, said nearly three-quarters of Wal-Mart workers contacted in a survey said they preferred online study to attending a local college.

Ledlie said Wal-Mart seemed at 81 colleges including brick-and-mortar schools, and found American Public University, based in Charles Town, W.Va., to be the best fit.

Wal-Mart Chief Administrative Officer Tom Mars said that the program grew out of a larger commitment to cultivate talent within the company. The program is open to domestic workers at Walmart and Sam’s Club stores. Mars also said, “We wanted to create a new way of thinking about what we call associate opportunity.

Mars said part of the company’s expanded effort to groom management included the removal of a requirement that workers have to move to a new store when they are promoted to store manager. That opens the promotions to workers who can’t or won’t move, and it helps Wal-Mart draw on a larger talent pool, especially if the workers are getting a better education.

A former U.S. undersecretary of education and Wal-Mart’s external advisory council, Sara Martinez Tucker said that Wal-Mart would have had to form a tremendous coalition of schools to offer a similar program through local community colleges and universities. Tucker also said that it is helpful to employees because they don’t have to apply for reimbursement from their employer.

Tucker noted that if 10 % of Wal-Mart’s U.S. workers get degrees, “that would be like adding three Ohio State’s worth of graduates.”

The credit for training can be applied primarily to business and retail related courses. Wal-Mart said that the school will have evaluated for credit jobs held by 70 % of Wal-Mart workers by January 2012 which covers about one million workers.

By Wal-Mark foundation, it also offers scholarships and offers assistance to workers seeking GEDs. Wal-Mart executives said the link with the school will help workers attain better jobs both inside and outside the company.

Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright declared the program on Thursday at a meeting of about 4,000 U.S. Wal-Mart workers a day before Wal-Mart’s annual shareholders meeting.

American Public University is credited in different ways such as national accreditation by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council. The university is run by for-profit American Public Education Inc.

Week of Wal-Mart annual meeting, Bentonville-based Wal-Mart holds meetings and training for store managers from around the world. The meeting usually features appearances by celebrities and music stars which start at 7 a.m. CDT and this will be web cast on Wal-Mart’s corporate website.

According to Wal-Mart’s estimation there are about 50 % of its employees in the United States have a high school diploma or the equivalent but they have not earned a college degree. Through the average full-time employee being paid $11.75 an hour, it was not clear how many of them will be able to take benefit of the new program. An associate’s degree for a Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club cashier would charge about $11,700 and a bachelor’s degree about $24,000 with the work credits and tuition discount.

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