Macy’s has joined the ever-growing list of top employers offering to pay for its workers’ college education as well as raise their wages and other benefits as it attempts to attract and retain employees in a tight labor market.
Monday, the department store chain announced it will cover 100% of the tuition, books and fees of its US-based, regular, salaried and hourly employees. The offer covers several educational options, including courses for high school completion, college preparation, English language learning, associate and bachelor’s degrees, bootcamps and professional certificates. .
Describe the new chord as a “debt free education benefit program,”Macy’s will partner with Guild Education, one of the largest managers of employee skills training and training assistance programs in the country, to organize and implement the initiative. He estimates that the new education benefit will cost around $ 35 million over the next four years.
Along with the new tuition allowance, Macy’s will increase its minimum wage to $ 15 an hour by next May, bringing its average base wage to over $ 17 an hour. It will also provide employees with additional paid leave.
“This program removes a major barrier to access to education and will help our colleagues to further develop their skills and develop their careers and earning potential,” said Danielle Kirgan, Head of Transformation and Human Resources at Macy’s.
With the announcement, Macy’s is adding its name to the growing number of large retailers, restaurant chains and other businesses that are using the lure of a free college to try and attract workers. Target, Walmart, Chipotle, Taco Bell, Starbucks and Disney have announced similar offers.
While many large companies have offered some sort of education assistance program to their employees for many years, the rate of use of these benefits has historically been low. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, some business analysts expected companies to cut educational benefits in an effort to cut costs.
But this fear does not play out. On the contrary, educational services are increasingly popular. In the process, another leading company that helps organize employer-provided educational services, has seen significant growth since the start of the pandemic, adding new partners on both the training provider side and the business side.
Macy’s decision shows just how competitive the job market has become as the economy continues to rebound. Many companies are increasingly desperate to hire and retain enough workers. At the start of the summer, job vacancies in the United States reached an all-time high 9.3 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are several reasons employers struggle to hire workers – inadequate pay, difficult working conditions, lingering concerns about Covid-19 and – according to some conservative critics – the availability of overly attractive unemployment benefits. .
It remains to be seen whether a free employer-provided college will do much to reverse the worker shortage. But it sends a signal that companies still believe in the value of college and are willing to make big investments to prove it.