Walmart workers can now get their college degrees in skilled trades for just $1 a day.
The big-box retailer has expanded its Live Better U educational benefits program for United States-based employees. The offering, which allows associates to earn traditional college degrees for $1 dollar a day, now includes skilled trade and digital training programs.
The company has partnered with Penn Foster to provide online courses that lead to skilled trades certifications in six fields: facilities maintenance, industrial maintenance, HVAC/refrigeration, electrical, plumbing and construction trades.
For digital skills training, Walmart has joined forces with eCornell and Southern New Hampshire University to add certificates in four areas: “ways of working,” data fluency and decision making, design thinking and UX/UI and technology.
Most of these programs, the company said, can be completed in one year or less.
“The current economic climate has only added urgency to the need for practical training and education opportunities for Americans, especially those who do not fit the historic profile of a full-time student,” Walmart U.S. EVP of people Julie Murphy said in a statement. “By adding both digital courses and skilled trades to our education benefit, associates have access to even more in-demand skills so they can advance their careers, whether at Walmart or elsewhere.”
In the U.S., the skilled trades workforce has faced a shortage in recent years: According to consulting and advisory firm Deloitte, the gap in skills trade roles — accelerated by retirement, turnover and a shift away from high school trade education — could leave an estimated 2.4 million jobs unfilled by 2028.
For its part, Walmart has reinforced its commitment to invest nearly $1 billion in bonuses for associates over the past few months. Since its launch in June 2018, LBU’s benefits have included free student coaching, college credit for store training and career guidance for graduates of the program.
According to the company, most of the workers who have engaged in the program are women, while the average age is between 30 to 40 years old and 47% are people of color. More than 25,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club employees have opted into the offering, which has been expanded to include all part- and full-time associates starting on their first day of work at the retail chain.