Learning and Development

Walmart’s Live Better U program turns 5, expands to Canada

Even with 104,000 enrollees and 19,000 graduates, the company says there’s more work to do.
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Five years ago, Walmart, one of the country’s largest employers, rolled out Live Better U (LBU) in partnership with Guild Education to empower employees to expand their education.

Report card. The program offers all part and full-time US associates 75 online learning paths, including college preparation classes, professional certificates, and bachelor’s degrees in high-need areas like computer science, business, and cybersecurity.

Walmart currently partners with learning institutions like Louisiana State University, Morehouse College, and the University of Arizona, and since launch, 104,000 US-based associates have participated in LBU, and 16,000 have completed one of the programs. In a new blog post, Walmart said the US-based initiative was so successful, that it’s now expanding to include associates in Canada. The company also announced the University of Arkansas as its latest partner institution.

When asked how many of the graduates from LBU go on to work in corporate roles, the company declined to provide those numbers. “The end goal is not about corporate office,” Lorraine Stomski, SVP of enterprise leadership and learning at Walmart, told HR Brew. “The goal is to make sure that we are actually upskilling for roles across the company.”

Not alone. Walmart isn’t alone in its efforts to educate its workforce. Its partner Guild Education also works with Hilton, Lowe’s, and Target all have education programs. Guild partners, including Walmart, pay tuition upfront, instead of providing reimbursement.

Investment for the future. Stomski said that the education investment has benefited both the company and its employees. An initial study of LBU conducted by the Lumina Foundation appears to back up those claims, as it found that employees who participate in LBU are four times more likely to stay at Walmart than nonparticipants. Furthermore, participants across races and genders were also promoted more than their peers.

Stomski said the company chooses the education programs based on what’s aligned with its business aspirations so associates can grow in tandem with the company. “We actually look at where the business is going, where our new roles are emerging, where our new capabilities that we need,” she said. However, Forbes noted that associates who want to pursue other learning opportunities, such as the humanities, are limited because Walmart is focused on investing in what will benefit the company.

Correction 06/07/2023: This story has been updated to reflect that all Guild partners pay tuition upfront.

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