On June 15, Seattle-based coffee colossus Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) unveiled the new Starbucks College Achievement Plan, an ambitious partnership with Arizona State University that allows employees who work more than 20 hours a week to work toward a bachelor’s degree with assistance from the company. Employees are able to choose from more than 40 paths of study and degree programs, and those admitted under junior or senior class standing will be able to receive full tuition reimbursement.
The new program is the first of its kind from a major American corporation partnering with a public university, and looks to be a great step forward for Starbucks, as the company has jumped on the opportunity to set an example for its corporate counterparts. There are numerous benefits to the Achievement Plan, and undoubtedly many of Starbucks’ thousands of employees are very excited at the prospect of being able to further their education with the company’s backing. Starbucks is offering a helping hand to its armies of low wage and low skill workers, in stark contrast to what many other large corporations are doing as efforts mount to increase profits and share prices.
What benefit does Starbucks get out its new initiative? For one, the quality of their employees should increase. Not to say that there aren’t fine individuals staffing the thousands of locations worldwide, but there is now an incentive for some of these lower skilled workers to want to come and work at a company offering them a free education. As the program kicks in and more and more employees take advantage of the Achievement Plan, the overall average level of education among the ranks will rise as well, giving Starbucks the advantage of an employee pool that is more educated than some of its rivals in companies like McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) or Dunkin Donuts (NASDAQ:DNKN).