Retailers Offer Free College to Attract Workers

Target Follows the Trend

Target (TGT) is joining a growing list of national retailers which are offering college reimbursement to attract workers in a competitive labor market. Due to childcare issues brought on by the pandemic, concerns about the Delta variant, and other factors, retailers across the country are having difficulties attracting workers.

In response to these trends, companies like Walmart (WMT), Starbucks (SBUX), and Chipotle (CMG) are raising the minimum wage they pay and footing the bill for undergraduate and graduate degrees. Walmart, which is the biggest employer in the US, announced just last week that it will cover the cost for college tuition and books for all its full- and part-time US associates.

Target Partners With Over 40 Schools

Beginning this fall, Target said it will pick up the bill for tuition, fees, and textbooks for employees who choose to earn an undergraduate degree at over 40 participating colleges and universities. Target will pay up to $10,000 per year for employees pursuing a graduate degree at one of the qualifying institutions.

The benefit kicks in on the first day of employment. Target will cover the entire cost to earn a degree in 250 areas which align with the goals of the company. Target will pay up to $5,250 for undergraduate degrees outside of these areas. Target is investing $200 million in the program over the course of four years.

Looking Ahead

Some of the colleges and universities participating in Target’s program include University of Arizona, University of Denver, and a number of historically Black colleges and universities. Employees can choose courses to earn a high school diploma, prepare for college, take English learning classes, pursue a certificate, attend boot camps, and earn associate, undergraduate, and graduate degrees.

Target is not alone in using this strategy to attract employees. Constraints in the labor market are not expected to end any time soon. It will be interesting to see if offering free college will help these retailers attract the workforce they need.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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