It's safe to say that Starbucks may suddenly be inundated with job applications. Starbucks billionaire Howard Schultz just changed the game in the world of part-time and minimum wage jobs versus getting an education. On June 16th, Schultz announced that his company would pay for thousands of their workers to earn a bachelor's degree through Arizona State University's online degree program.
While other employers are engaged in the debate over raising the minimum wage to help part-time employee's bottom line, Starbucks is offering a different solution. Starbucks was already one of the first corporations to offer part-time employees health benefits, 401k and a stock equity reward program. By adding the College Achievement Plan, the company is bridging the gap for employees with career ambitions.
It may look like a move made simply to promote a good image, but Schultz says, "I couldn’t care less about marketing,” he said. “This is not about PR. This is about the future of our company doing what’s right for our people and also, sending a message to the country that we can’t build a great company and we can’t build a great enduring country if we’re constantly leaving people behind."
The plan appears to have been formed with the full knowledge that employees will move on once they complete a degree, and they'll see that as predictable employee turn-over, typical for retail jobs. The employees will not be contracted in any way to stay with Starbucks upon graduation.
Schultz frames this offering as a response to the main obstacles of higher education, specifically the challenge of work/life balance, and the fact that college simply isn't affordable for most workers. Starbucks will provide working students with a dedicated enrollment coach, financial aid counselor and academic advisor to support them through graduation.
Could more employers afford to offer this perk and incentive? Make no mistake, tuition is tax deductible, even if a corporation is paying for it. So Starbucks will see some benefit beyond creating an educated workforce.
Now the question is whether we really believe a bachelors degree is the answer for every retail employee? If every Starbucks employee who wanted to, was able get a college degree, will there be employment opportunities for them when they graduate? Or do you feel better about being underemployed if you didn't have to pay tuition yourself?
Alternatively, if Starbucks is helping send it's employees to school, we can all feel a little better about spending four bucks on a frou-frou drink, if we feel like we're contributing to a greater good in some way.
Read the full scoop on Starbucks webpage here.
photo credit : http://fivegreatest.com