Walmart presents Live Better U as a secret weapon in Talent Wars
- Walmart’s Live Better U program has reached a milestone: its biggest promotion ever.
- The retail giant is touting the advantage of education as competition for retail talent intensifies.
- Live Better U enables Walmart employees to earn high school and college degrees.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
Walmart has announced the most graduates ever to graduate from its educational program, as the company sees this advantage as a major advantage in an increasingly tight labor market.
Through Live Better U, Walmart employees can enroll in programs to earn a high school diploma, college diploma, or other educational certificate for $ 1 per day. The company recently said 4,104 workers completed the program over a 12-month period, a record for LBU. There are currently approximately 28,000 students active in the program.
“There are a lot of associates who really yearn for more, but given the circumstances of life, they haven’t had that access to this opportunity,” Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of the learning and leadership from Walmart. “So that’s really how this vision came to life. How could we really give our associates an educational advantage that would cost them nothing? “
Live Better U launched in 2018 through a partnership with an education and development platform Guild Education. It is currently available to all 1.6 million Walmart employees in the United States. Since 2018, around 7,000 graduates have graduated from LBU. From April 2020 to April 2021, Walmart said the program saw a 93% increase in high school and college graduates.
LBU has reached its latest enrollment milestone in an environment where the rewards and rewards for retail jobs are greater than ever. Despite the fact that 10 million Americans remain unemployed, many employers are currently struggling to attract talent for hourly jobs. In some states, there are currently more vacancies than workers available. Some restaurants are starting to raise their prices to help support rising wages and supply price increases. Some companies – such as a group of McDonald’s franchisees – have complained that unemployment benefits during a pandemic were to blame.
According to Stomski, Walmart believes LBU will prove to be a “super convincing” advantage in this exceptionally tight job market.
“I think there’s something extremely powerful about showing access to opportunities while you’re on the job at a Fortune One retailer,” Stomski said.
But she said the benefit is also a factor in terms of retaining existing employees. Walmart said workers who graduated from LBU have higher retention and promotion rates. In some cases, Stomski said the program provides an opportunity to move from in-store work to the Bentonville, Arkansas head office.
“Our students were saying, ‘I would like to learn people management skills. I would like to be a store manager. I would love to get into home office operations, “” she said. “So we really made sure we had some degree programs for that.”
Stomski said areas of particular interest to Live Better U students include retail, cybersecurity, transportation, logistics and supply chain management. Enrollment in business studies increased 76% year over year during the pandemic. Meanwhile, workers studying healthcare rose 152%, as the retail giant plans to open 15 new healthcare clinics in 2021.
“Frankly, the programs, skills and degrees will obviously be of great value to these students, even if they choose to get out of Walmart,” she said. “We don’t want them to do it, but it does happen.”
In addition to high school and college degrees, the program offers workers the opportunity to team up with career coaches. About 650 current students are enrolled in ESL courses. According to Stomski, LBU also serves as a secret weapon in the fight to promote inclusion in the workplace. She said 57% of active LBU students are women, while 19% are African American and 18% are Hispanic.
“LBU is just a vehicle, but it’s a very powerful vehicle and it’s a vehicle that we’re looking at at Walmart because we want to build a diverse workforce,” Stomski said.