Days after Walmart announced it would cover 100% of college tuition and books for its employees, Target is making the same promise.
Target announced Wednesday it would offer its full and part-time employees “the most comprehensive debt-free education assistance program available in the retail industry.”
The program, which will begin this fall, will provide “debt-free undergraduate degrees, certifications, free textbooks and more with no out-of-pocket costs” in 250 business-aligned programs at 40 colleges and universities across the country. The retail giant will invest more than $200 million in the program.
Walmart, the largest private employer in the country, made a similar pledge last week.
“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,” Melissa Kremer, Target’s chief human resources officer, said in a statement. “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.”
The move by both retail bigwigs could be seen as a way to boost and retain employees as many businesses across the country deal with a labor shortage due to the coronavirus pandemic. Job openings are widespread and businesses have been trying to entice workers with everything from free appetizers to signing bonuses and hourly wage increases. However, many jobs are still available as workers hold out over safety concerns, a lack of childcare, and unemployment and COVID-related benefits such as health insurance and paid sick leave.
In addition to college tuition, Target will also support its employees with college prep courses, English-language learning, and cybersecurity certificates and courses.
Among the universities included in Target’s program are the University of Arizona, Oregon State University, University of Denver, and multiple HBCU schools, including Morehouse College and Paul Quinn College.
Target employees who seek educational opportunities outside of the select business-aligned programs within the network of schools will be provided direct payments to their academic institution of up to $5,250 for non-master’s degrees and up to $10,000 for master’s degrees each year to reduce the burden of upfront, costly tuition payments.”