Representing a doubling of its annual spending on employee training and development, Walgreens last week cut the ribbon on Walgreens University, a facility dedicated to providing classroom and online programming for employees.
More than 100 courses will be available through one of the few corporate training programs to offer college credit for certain classes, including pharmacy technician training and management and retail fundamentals. The program will involve universities such as Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, which will offer a customized MBA program; University of Maryland University College; Webster University; the University of Phoenix; and DeVry University, Keller Graduate School of Management.
Tuition discounts of 10 percent to 25 percent will be available to many Walgreens employees, with some discounts also available to employee spouses and dependents. Employees will also have access to non-credit management courses offered online from Harvard Business Publishing, a subsidiary of Harvard University.
The facility in Deerfield, IL has technology-enhanced classrooms, a mock drugstore and videoconferencing capabilities. It will also be home to the company's 300 trainers and will be the base of operations for employee educational programs offered online and in regional locations nationwide.
The goal for Walgreens, according to its statement, is to "lead its industry in classroom and online programming that engages, educates and develops team members for rewarding long-term careers." Plans are to double the number of learning opportunities for employees through expanded online classes, regional training sessions and in the Deerfield campus classrooms.
Walgreens University's dean is Bruce Bryant, SVP with over 42 years at the company.
Walgreens' statement noted that U.S. companies increased spending on training and development 12 percent last year, the highest growth rate in eight years, according to Bersin by Deloitte, a human resources consulting firm.
"If we are to attract, retain and develop the best talent, if we are to achieve the organizational agility necessary to adapt to changing markets, we need an industry-leading education and development program," said Walgreens' Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, chief human resources officer, in the statement.
How effective will Walgreens University be in raising the professionalism of the chain's employees?