Wal-Mart is dipping its toe into the online-education waters, working with a web-based university to offer its employees in the United States affordable college degrees, reports the New York Times. The partnership with American Public University, a for-profit school with about 70,000 online students, will allow some Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club employees to earn credits in areas like retail management and logistics for performing their regular jobs. The university will offer eligible employees 15-percent price reductions on tuition, and Wal-Mart will invest $50 million over three years in other tuition assistance for the employees who participate. Executives at Wal-Mart, the nations’ largest retailer, said the company was not interested in entering the online-education field in a broader way. The point of the program, they said, was to help employees get more education and to build a better work force. Even so, because of its size, Wal-Mart’s internal changes often turn into industry standards, as with its efforts involving environmental sustainability. And with 1.4 million employees in the United States, even an employees-only program could have widespread implications. “If 10 to 15 percent of employees take advantage of this, that’s like graduating three Ohio State Universities,” said Sara Martinez Tucker, a former undersecretary of education who is now on Wal-Mart’s external advisory council. “It’s a lot of Americans getting a college degree at a time when it’s becoming less affordable.”

Click here for the full story

About the Author:

staff and wire services reports