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Starbucks Gets Into Higher Ed

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

(Sean Wandzilak/Shutterstock)

Starbucks has announced a partnership with Arizona State University to help employees finish their degrees through online courses. Anya Kamenetz of NPR's new education team, and author of Generation Debt: Why Now is a Terrible Time to be Young (Riverhead Trade, 2006), talks about the deal and what it means for Starbucks, their workers, and the future of higher education.

Guests:

Anya Kamenetz

Comments [11]

Avianca Bouchedid from New Jersey

Starbucks providing tuition reimbursement is not a new idea at all. In the early 90s, Colgate-Palmolive offered a generous tuition reimbursement that I took full advantage of. I worked a 40-hour work week at Colgate-Palmolive and took 12-15 credits a semester at St. John's University. I received my BA in 1995 and went on to receive a masters from Columbia University. All classes for both degrees were taken at night and the entire BA and a bit of the MA was paid by tuition reimbursement. So, while I like Starbucks, this sounds like spin to me. ๐Ÿ˜’

Jun. 17 2014 11:57 AM
fuva from harlemworld

OK, this is a great idea in theory but, thanks to this segment, it's now clear that Starbuck's execution here is rather poor.

Jun. 17 2014 11:14 AM
Jessica from Harlem

This is a big marketing ploy, newspapers across the nation printed the press release verbatim.

Sucks peoppe in to stay you know the turnaround at starbucks? Put them in debt, and then let's see how many people actually get the benefit or how many are in debt and get fired for some reason.

Jun. 17 2014 11:11 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Great point, caller. Yes, online education quality tends to be substandard, particularly for the population this benefit would seem to target, who would tend to benefit more from immersion.

Jun. 17 2014 11:10 AM
Tee from NJ

I worked for Pearson and I can attest to the caller who said they're all about money, not about actual education. It is a crime that they keep getting these big contracts.

Jun. 17 2014 11:09 AM
Marcos from the Bronx

I'm a former barista. Starbucks is a sweatshop which makes huge profits, overcharges for low quality addictive and unhealthy products. Starbucks offer's benefits that sound good as a part of their marketing strategy to consumers. The benefits are designed to be hard to use. This new benefit is designed to indenture employees to Starbucks. If employees find a better job and leave Starbucks, they will lose out on the benefit.

Jun. 17 2014 11:08 AM
Bob from Huntington

Please, Howard, spare us the appearance of being concerned about your employees. My daughter worked at a Starbucks for a time where the manager saw no issue with scheduling people who closed the store at 11 pm returning at 6 am to open. Patrons would also be interested to know that the barista who prepared your frothy beverage may also have just cleaned the toilets. All this for slightly above minimum range.

Ironically, my daughter was a college graduate when she worked at Starbucks--a job she turned to in a jobless economy in hopes of paying off her student loan debt. If you really want to help your employees, Howard, pay them
a minimum wage in line with what's paid in Seattle, the home of your corporate headquarters:$15 per hour. Pay them a wage that might help them pay for a real traditional college education--not something taken online, on the fly.

It's a shrewd business ploy, Howard, but people can see through it.

Jun. 17 2014 11:07 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Smokey

Because if you just pay workers more, it's not a "perk" or "benefit." It's taken for granted. But when you give a "benefit" like tuition assistance or health insurance, it becomes a "benefit" and gives your company a big halo around its head.
And then if you just pay young workers more they are just going to blow it on cars, drugs and booze. So might as well get a good reputation as a "nice" company and also keep workers a little happier for a while.

Jun. 17 2014 11:07 AM

Why not just pay employees enough so they can pay their own tuition?

Jun. 17 2014 11:02 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Not so unusual. Back in the '60s many companies offered some tuition assistance to young workers as a benefit to keep them in place. I was offered tuition to study banking which I declined, and in a manufacturing company to study some engineering and declined that as well. I was pretty well off and cocky when I was 21. I had Regent Scholarships and my folks had a business, so I didn't think I needed them at the time.
But bringing back tuition assistance as a benefit is a good idea whose time may have returned.

Jun. 17 2014 11:00 AM
fuva from harlemworld

This is an excellent model to move the country forward (and up). Companies with masses of young, low wage workers should be assisting them with life-planing and gainful skills attainment.

Jun. 17 2014 10:59 AM

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