- Tyson Foods will soon offer all U.S. employees free degrees, certificates and other formal learning credentials, it said in an April 25 press release.
- The offerings will include subjects such as agriculture, supply chain and operations, manufacturing and automation, and sustainability. Offered through Guild Education, the benefit will cover employees’ tuition, books and fees.
- “Providing equity and opportunity to every single member of our team is part of our goal to make Tyson the most sought-after place to work,” said John R. Tyson, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer at Tyson Foods, in a press release. “Providing education benefits will continue to lay a foundation for personal and career growth for our team members.”
Tyson’s announcement expands on a suite of learning benefits that already included free ESL, GED, citizenship, financial and digital literacy classes to front-line employees at many locations, according to the company.
It also builds on the employer’s approach to recruiting and retention in an employee-friendly market. The company said it invested more than $500 million in wage increases and bonuses for its hourly workforce last year and is piloting subsidized and on-site childcare, as well as free health centers. An increasing number of Tyson production facilities offer flexible work schedules, too, it said in a statement.
And while employees say compensation and flexibility remain at the top of their wishlists, L&D appears to be holding its ground as a crucial part of employers’ talent strategies; Dollar General and Kohl’s, for example, recently announced a no-cost degree program similar to Tyson’s. While learning opportunities may not be workers’ No. 1 demand, a February report from LinkedIn showed they are a major factor in job hunts for members of Gen Z.
Still, such offerings aren’t without potential pitfalls: A December 2021 report from Bloomberg questioned whether Guild’s model benefits workers. Guild, founded in 2015, said it’s too early to examine graduation rates, and that such data isn’t the only measure of success anyway. Employees are gaining new skills and earning promotions well before graduation, its CEO and co-founder told the media outlet.