Walmart adds health degrees to its education benefits program


Walmart extending its ongoing push into health-and-wellness with an employee-based initiative.

The nation’s largest private employer is adding seven bachelor’s degrees and two career diplomas in health-related fields to its educational benefits program, Live Better U. The program charges participating employees $1 a day, with Walmart covering the rest of the costs.

The new initiative comes as the health-and-wellness industry is projected to grow 18% between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It also comes as Walmart is diving deeper and deeper into health care. The retailer said the program will give associates training to fill healthcare roles across Walmart and Sam’s Club, which includes more than 5,000 retail pharmacies, 3,000 vision centers and 400 hearing centers, as well as the new Walmart Health center, which opened earlier this month in Dallas, Georgia.

“Walmart aims to be the market leader in providing retail workers a path to careers in growing fields like healthcare,” said Drew Holler, senior VP of associate experience for Walmart U.S. “We don’t know of any other retailer in America that has a program that allows its associates the opportunity to achieve a degree in healthcare that can translate into a higher-paying job within the company or in the broader field.”

The health-and-wellness courses include career diploma programs for pharmacy technicians and opticians through Penn Foster, and seven bachelor’s degrees in health science, health-and-wellness and healthcare management/administration offered through Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Bellevue University and Wilmington University.

Walmart’s Live Better U now offers more than 50 programs across professions. It includes the debt-free $1 a day degree program, free high school completion for associates and eligible family members, discounts on higher education programs like master’s degrees, free foreign language learning and much more — all in partnership with Guild Education.

Associates can now earn degrees and certificates at six nonprofit universities: Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University, University of Florida, Brandman University and Bellevue University. Health-and-wellness programs join Live Better U’s previous degree offerings in business, supply chain and technology.

Additionally, associates can get college credit for training they receive on the job through Walmart Academies.

More than 13,500 Walmart associates from across the nation have been accepted into at least one of the educations programs since the chain launched Live Better U last year. Associates completed more than 36,000 credits worth a total of $17.5 million in the first year of the program, the company said.

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