Walmart Canada is supporting employees’ ongoing education by covering the cost of tuition, books and course fees for programs at some of Canada’s top universities.

The Live Better U education program provides employees with upskilling opportunities, including degrees and licensing for pharmacy technicians and opticians, as well as certificates in areas such as project management, data analytics and e-commerce. It also offers opportunities for workers to improve their skills in English and French or to earn a general educational development certificate.

AnnMarie Mercer, Walmart Canada’s chief people officer, says the program was designed to meet the needs of the business while supporting employees by removing financial barriers to education. Employee response to the new program has been very positive, she notes, with more than 600 workers signing up in the first week.

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“We believe that we need to continuously be upskilling our workforce to not only meet the needs of today, but also the future. . . . We’ve also heard from our [employees] that they want to stay and grow with us. We’ve got multiple [educational] paths that [they] can select and that ensures we’re promoting from within first before we move to hire externally.”

The program is Walmart Canada’s latest learning and development offering. Last year, the organization launched an internal talent marketplace, featuring an artificial intelligence-enabled platform that provides workers with career paths within the company. Employees also have access to multiple online learning platforms, including one offered by Harvard University.

“When we think about well-being, it’s in terms of how are we supporting our [employees’ overall] well-being, including financial well-being — [we’re looking at] whether we have the right wages, the right benefits [and] the right educational program,” says Mercer. “[We want to create] a sense of belonging where all individuals have a voice in our organization.”

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