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04/13/2022

Lowe’s offers new educational program to associates

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Lowe’s is making it easier for associates to attend college.

Lowe’s Companies Inc. is making it easier for full- and part-time associates to continue their education.

The home improvement giant is partnering with upskilling technology platform Guild to offer a new benefit that gives over 300,000 eligible full-time and part-time associates access to 100% debt-free programs. The free programs are designed to help associates build careers within Lowe's, including areas of study such as supply chain, logistics, data analytics, cybersecurity, and technology.

Lowe's new education program offers debt-free tuition assistance to associates seeking to earn undergraduate certificates or degrees, or enroll in English language learning, high school completion or college prep programs. Programs include flexible classes that fit different schedules, fully covered textbooks and course fees, and one-on-one support from Guild coaches.

Through the program, Lowe's is offering over 50 academic programs across 23 universities and learning providers in Guild's Learning Marketplace, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). Academic partners in the Guild program include the University of Arizona – a Hispanic-Serving Institution – and HBCUs such as Morehouse College, North Carolina A&T State University and Paul Quinn College.

Additionally, Lowe's offers a long-standing tuition reimbursement program, which reimburses associates up to $2,500 annually in education expenses. Lowe's also continues to offer “Track to the Trades,” a company-funded pre-apprentice certificate program to help up to 4,000 part-time and full-time associates pursue careers in the skilled trades each year.

Lowe's covers 100% of tuition for Track to the Trade diplomas in HVAC, solar, commercial HVAC, appliance repair, multi-family facilities management, electrical and plumbing.

Other Tier 1 retailers also offer comprehensive employee tuition reimbursement/assistance programs. Chief Lowe’s rival The Home Depot, which pledged $50 million to train 20,000 tradespeople over the next 10 years in 2018, built on that effort in December 2020 with an education and job placement program called Path to Pro. Path to Pro aims to educate more people in the skilled trades, connect skilled tradespeople with jobs and careers, and generate interest in trade professions through educational campaigns. 

In addition, Amazon launched its Career Choice initiative to assist employees with continuing education in 2012, and in March 2022 partnered with more than 140 national and local universities to provide fully-funded college tuition as part of a $1.2 billion commitment.

Other examples include Starbucks, which began providing free college education for workers in 2014; and Walmart, which in July 2021said it will pay 100% of college tuition and books for employees through its Live Better U (LBU) education program. Walmart has been steadily expanding to the program, which launched in 2018. 

"At Lowe's, we believe greater access to education leads to more opportunities, and our success is intertwined with our associates' success and their ability to continuously learn," said Janice Dupré, Lowe's executive VP of HR. "We actively listen to our associates to identify how we can help them in the many facets of their lives. This debt-free education offering is one of the many ways we're working to help our associates reach their career potential while knocking down traditional barriers that often make it difficult for them to obtain a degree."

"With the persistent war for talent, it's more critical than ever to invest in employees," said Rachel Carlson, Guild CEO and co-founder. "By offering debt-free education and upskilling, Lowe's is expanding their long-term strategic commitment to providing career pathways, skills and support that every worker needs to open doors to their dreams."