Underscoring ambitions to become a more prominent player at the intersection of retail and health, Walmart this week began offering its associates education programs in the health and wellness fields through its “Live Better U” initiative.
The health and wellness courses include career diploma programs for pharmacy technicians and opticians through Penn Foster, and seven bachelor’s degrees in health science, health and wellness, and healthcare management/administration through Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Bellevue University and Wilmington University.
Live Better U, introduced in 2018, provides associates with subsidized college and continuing education programs, with curriculums tailored to relevant skills for jobs and advancement. The program, in partnership with Guild Education, offers associates the programs at a cost of about $1 a day.
“Walmart aims to be the market leader in providing retail workers a path to careers in growing fields like healthcare,” Drew Holler, SVP of associate experience for Walmart U.S., said in a statement. “We don’t know of any other retailer in America that has a program that allows its associates the opportunity to achieve a degree in healthcare that can translate into a higher-paying job within the company or in the broader field.”
The move is among deliberate steps taken by Walmart this year to tighten the retailer’s association with health and wellness—an industry that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects will grow by 18% between 2016 and 2026. Walmart recently opened a specialty health center at a renovated Supercenter in Georgia called Walmart Health, a prototype that works with partner providers to deliver affordable, transparent pricing of key health services for local customers.
Live Better U now includes more than 50 programs, removing financial and access barriers to education for associates seeking educational opportunities across professions.