Retail giant Target said Wednesday that the company will offer free college education including free books. They hope that the incentives will attract new workers to join them.
Target To Pay For Workers’ Complete College Education
Beginning this fall, the retail chain will cover the cost of a complete college education. This includes tuition, fees, and textbooks for its full-time and part-time employees. Workers can choose from a list of qualifying undergraduate degrees in more than 40 academic institutions.
In addition, Target will also help workers studying for advanced degrees. The company said they will front up to $10,000 a year for master’s degree programs in qualified schools.
The Race To Attract Workers
Target’s offer of free college education to entice workers to join them is par for the course for retail companies. Many companies are looking at additional perks to get employees in a highly competitive labor market.
Rival Walmart earlier announced it will provide free college tuition and books to employees. Previously, they charged workers a dollar a day for the privilege. Meanwhile, food chains such as Starbucks and Chipotle also implement tuition assistance programs for their employees.
However, Target won’t require a minimum number of years in the company to qualify for free college tuition. All new workers assigned at stores, distribution centers, and corporate HQ will qualify for the perk as soon as they arrive on their first day.
Target will cover the full educational cost for 250 programs chosen due to their alignment with Target’s business. This includes computer science, information technology, and business management.
Courses Aligned To Target’s Business
If an employee prefers a non-aligned course or is going after a graduate degree, Target will help with the payment. It will shell out up to $5,250 for non-master’s degrees and up to $10,000 for master’s degrees each year. The tuition will be covered via direct payments to the chosen academic institution.
In particular, the company said it looks at investing around $200 million over the next four years for workers’ education. Programs were developed with Guild Education, a company that manages corporate education assistance programs. Some of the qualified schools include the University of Arizona, Oregon State University, University of Denver, and Morehouse College.
Making Education Accessible
In a statement, Target chief human resources officer Melissa Kremer offers an insight into the company’s objectives. “Target employs team members at every life stage and helps our team learn, develop and build their skills, whether they’re with us for a year or a career. We don’t want the cost to be a barrier for anyone, and that’s where Target can step in to make education accessible for everyone.”
Offering college education benefits like free college tuition comes at a time when many businesses are struggling to hire new workers. Many retail employees left the industry when shops began closing during the pandemic.
Many of those who left remain hesitant to return. They cite reasons such as the need to get child care, health and safety concerns on working the floor, and low pay. A college perk not only can attract workers with an eye for continuing education.
It can also entice them to stay long enough to complete their education.
Watch the KARE 11 video reporting that Target will offer debt-free education to front-line employees:
Do you agree with offering workers free college education in order to convince them to sign up and stay? Will this work long-term?
Let us know what you think about education assistance programs for retail workers. Share your comments in the comments section below.