Drink coffee, buy music, meet friends – Starbucks introduced a new way for us to experience these things and has just added another to the list. Going to college. Earlier this week, Starbucks announced it would pay for college for employees who want to earn a college degree. Starbucks will provide a free online college education to its 135,000 US employees through a partnership with Arizona State University (ASU). ASU offers over 40 online bachelor programs and enrolls 10,000 students annually.
So, what is the big news here? Big companies have long supported their employees on a path to college tuition but often these relationships come with stipulations, including staying at the company after graduation or working full time. Now Starbucks is offering something different. The chance to start college from day one as long as you are working a part time schedule of 20 hours for week.
And why would they do this? Because they want better business results. Companies are starting to tie business performance to the level of education within their locations. In an interview with the New York Times, Chairman and Chief Executive Howard D. Schultz said, “I believe it will lower attrition, it’ll increase performance, it’ll attract and retain better people.”
Here we are talking about college, but what about a high school diploma? Research shows that people with a high school diploma have higher self-esteem than those that do not. The corporations of today are looking for qualified and confident workers and now have an opportunity to build them in house through offering tuition assistance and educational support starting with high school.
A recent Education Week study reported over 3 million US high school drop outs annually and that these dropouts are not eligible for 90% of US jobs.
Through new High School Completion programs, like the one offered by Penn Foster, these Americans can gain the confidence they need and expand future job prospects by finishing high school. And if companies can see lower attrition and increased performance from home-grown college graduates, think about what the opportunity is with home-grown high school graduates. These employees can complete their high school in less time and start giving back to their organizations today.
I hope Starbucks paves the way for more organizations to think differently about investing in their employees, but this time, let’s start with High School. What do you think about Starbucks paying college tuition?