Grocery giant Walmart is offering free college tuition to its high school employees in a bid to recruit more staff in a struggling jobs market.
The group, which turned over more than $500bn last year, is offering the scheme to its current staff who are in high school as well as future employees of high school age.
Called the $1 a day scheme, it offers a range of courses, from SAT prep to bachelors and associates degrees.
The chain is also offering to pay for the cost of the students’ books.
Students who join the program while they work in the store will be eligible for a range of degrees from 12 different not-for-profit universities, including the University of Florida, Bellevue University in Nebraska and Southern New Hampshire University.
The company hopes the scheme will attract high school students to work in its stores, as they have the offer of working flexible hours as well as taking steady shifts.
Walmart hopes to identify employees young and pay for their education in the hope they will rise through the ranks of the corporation.
The chain currently employs 1.5 million people in the US – making it the the largest private sector employee in the country.
Walmart’s current CEO, Doug McMillon started working for the company while he was in high school and around seven per cent of their 4,300 store managers began on an hourly wage while in high school.
‘We see this as a pipeline that we can leverage that we currently aren’t,’ said Julie Murphy, Walmart’s executive vice president of people. We want to be able to create that connection early.’
She added that the expansion was with ‘the future needs for our organization’ in mind.
Courses on offer include computer science and cyber security.
Unemployment in the US has fallen to the lowest level in decades.
U.S. job growth slowed sharply in May and wages rose less than expected, suggesting the loss of momentum in economic activity was spreading to the labor market.
The cool-off in hiring reported by the Labor Department on Friday was even before a recent escalation in trade tensions between the United States and two of its major trading partners, China and Mexico.
Despite being the biggest private employer in America, the retailer has less than 25,000 employees studying in high school, which is below the industry average.
The chain claims demographic shifts means less high school students are picking up part-time jobs.
Youth employment has fallen across the board due to an increased focus on internships and volunteering looking favorable on college applications.