- PepsiCo will offer its more than 100,000 frontline and professional U.S.-based employees a debt-free college degree program through Guild Education, the company revealed March 2.
- The new program will cover 100% of tuition costs, books and fees, alongside its "established tuition reimbursement program."
- PepsiCo is the fifth employer Guild has created partnerships with since the beginning of 2022, including programs with Kohl’s, Hilton, Herschend and UCHealth. "Education and career pathways are the missing link of the new social contract between employers and employees," Natalie McCullough, president and chief commercial officer at Guild, told HR Dive in an email. "As a result, the nation's most innovative companies are trying to get ahead on this curve by partnering with Guild — supporting their team today while preparing for the workforce of tomorrow."
PepsiCo is one of the largest manufacturers in the U.S., and this new benefit signals the moves manufacturers have had to make to keep workers onboard in a tough market.
Young workers, especially, want upskilling opportunities; more than half of manufacturing employees under the age of 25 said they stuck with their employers because of training and development, according to a Manufacturing Institute's Center for Manufacturing Research study published in July 2021. And it may be worth employers' time to invest in programs focused on upskilling young workers, generally, a January report by Jobs for the Future and the Taco Bell Foundation said.
The Manufacturing Institute's study noted, however, that frontline workers were less likely to be satisfied with their companies' development programs compared to senior leadership, and suggested that manufacturers should equip frontline managers with ways to support workers.
"Time poverty disproportionately affects some of the most vulnerable working populations — the same ones who have the most to gain from education programs, including frontline workers or those who earn a low income," Chloe Rittenhouse, a principal of employer solutions at Guild Education, previously wrote for HR Dive. While skills training is a consistently requested benefit, merely providing it is rarely enough for these workers, Rittenhouse added.
As burnout reaches new levels across organizations, employers will want to make clear the value of their upskilling programs — and, in some cases, take a step back and allow workers to regroup before pursuing learning opportunities.