Target Invests $200 Million for Free College Courses for Staff
(Bloomberg) -- Target Corp. pledged $200 million over four years to fund educational courses for its U.S. employees, mirroring a similar program from rival Walmart Inc. and showing the lengths companies will go to in a tight labor market.
The new program will be available to more than 340,000 full-time and part-time U.S. workers in its stores, distribution centers and headquarters, Target said in a statement Wednesday. Employees can choose from 250 classes at more than 40 schools on topics ranging from computer science to design. They will accrue no out-of-pocket costs, even for textbooks and other fees. For studies outside the program, Target will also pay as much as $5,250 annually for non-master’s degrees and as much as $10,000 for master’s degrees.
Target built the program with Guild Education, which specializes in higher education for working adults and also helped craft Walmart’s tuition program. Classes will be available from the University of Arizona, Oregon State University, the University of Denver and others.
The move comes a week after Walmart sweetened its three-year-old college tuition program by investing $1 billion to remove all costs for employees -- an effort to boost enrollment in a plan that previously cost staffers $1 a day.
Target and Walmart both hired thousands of frontline employees last year to meet surging demand for everyday goods during the pandemic, and the retailers now face the challenge of holding onto them. U.S. companies added far fewer jobs than expected in July, indicating persistent hiring obstacles despite broader improvement in the economy. Firms are trying to keep pace with an unleashing of pent-up demand, but it will take time to fill a now-record number of open positions.
Target separately last week gave all its frontline employees a $200 recognition bonus. Last year it raised its starting hourly wage to $15, higher than Walmart’s starting pay.
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