Starbucks has announced that it will start paying tuition fees for UK employees seeking a degree as the firm expands its education initiative.
The coffee chain will pay for 100% of the tuition fees for eligible UK employees seeking a Bachelor of Science Degree or Bachelor of Arts Degree through online university programmes by Arizona State University (ASU). Employees can choose from 40+ different programmes which will be entirely funded by Starbucks and ASU.
This move is an expansion of the company’s successful educative initiative Starbucks Degree Achievement Plan (SDAP) which initially launched in 2014.
Russell Butcher, Senior Manager in Education and Skills at Starbucks told HR Grapevine: "At Starbucks, we work closely with partners to identify what benefits matter most to them and many have expressed how difficult the financial strains can be to obtain a University degree. The partnership between Starbucks and Arizona State University aims to remove the barriers to higher education and create opportunities for partners to pursue individual goals of achieving a university degree."
And Butcher explained that the programme has resulted in "deeper connections to the brand, customer connections and retention within the organisation".
The UK’s new SDAP is said to be part of the company’s ongoing support mechanism which aims to create opportunities for its employees. This initiative also marks the first time that the company-led programme was offered outside of the US.
Martin Brok, President, Starbucks EMEA said that Starbuck’s has always prided itself on being a company that puts people first. “If we can remove the financial burden of the cost of a university degree while helping our partners gain skills that will set them up for future success – we can’t think of a better investment,” he explained.
Due to the success of the programme in the US, which initially launched in 2014, Starbucks in the UK decided to extend the educational offering to the UK, after identifying which benefits matter most to their employees.
Brok added: “For those who have ever considered earning their degree and haven’t had the opportunity or those who’ve had to put their studies on hold...
"the Starbucks Degree Achievement Programme could be the chance they’ve been waiting for to earn their degree – with Starbucks here to pick up the bill.”
But it seems that this isn’t the only initiative that Starbucks has launched to support employees’ futures. In 2012 the firm launched an apprenticeship programme and in the UK more than 1,000 apprentices have been placed.
The coffee chain’s HR Director Lisa Robbins told HR Grapevine said that it was expanding the scheme was a no-brainer. She believed “it’s part of Starbucks’ responsibility to help people grow and be the best that they can be”.