By Noah Rothstein
As businesses around the country struggle to find workers, Target and Walmart have launched incentives to keep the employees they already have and attract new job candidates.
On Aug. 4, Target said that it would cover the cost of tuition, fees, and textbooks for part- and full-time workers who pursue a qualifying undergraduate degree at more than 40 institutions. It will also fund advanced degrees, paying up to $10,000 each year for master’s programs at those schools.
With the move, Target joins other retailers and restaurant chains, including Chipotle and Starbucks, that have programs that help employees pay for college.
Target plans to invest $200 million in the education program over the next four years. It developed the program with Guild Education, a company that manages corporate education assistance programs. Participating schools include the University of Arizona, Oregon State University, University of Denver, and Morehouse College.
Target also recently presented a $200 bonus for all of its approximately 340,000 hourly workers, which will be paid out this month. The company said investments total $75 million.
Walmart announced it would cover the total cost of college tuition and books for its employees and will drop its existing $1-per-day fee for associates who participate in its Live Better U education program.
With the new plan, Walmart plans to invest almost $1 billion over the next five years in career training and development for its employees.
In addition, Walmart is giving weekly bonuses to warehouse workers, who already have higher pay than store associates.
At the end of 2020, employees in distribution and fulfillment centers had an average hourly wage of $20.37, excluding drivers, higher than the average wage of $14.61 for Walmart U.S., according to the company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) report. The company has since increased wages. As of March 2021, the company said the average hourly wage in the U.S. is over $15.25 per hour.