- Six months out since Starbucks announced their College Achievement Program – the much-touted “free college” plan offered to all employees who work 20 hours per week or more – it turns out the program met considerable success, especially with recruitment and retention.
- After the company’s original April announcement, Forbes contributor Micah Solomon kept tabs on the program to see what kind of results would come out of it. Overall, he’s noticed that the program has a high level of commitment and promotes high employee retention, with many new hires in the past year saying they applied to join the company due to the program.
- Data on the broader social impact on the program isn’t yet available, particularly in economically distressed neighborhoods.
According to Solomon, 63% of new hires at Starbucks “express interest in taking advantage of the benefit.” And applications to work at Starbucks have increased by 600,000 from FY14 to FY15, from 5.8 million to 6.4 million.
Additionally, employees are actually taking advantage of the program. Since the time Solomon first covered the announcement, 4,800 workers comprised from all 50 states are enrolled in the four-year program – 2.5 times the number enrolled when the program was first announced and a fledgling version was already in existence. They are also committed. Arizona State University, the university partnered with Starbucks for the program, reports a “5% higher retention rate among the Starbucks enrollees than among ASU’s core student body,” Solomon said.
For the future, Starbucks is looking to create a customized retail degree created in part with ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business for those who want to stay with Starbucks and grow their career in retail post-graduation. A mentorship program and a Starbucks-specific elective are also in the works.