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Starbucks Corp. said over the weekend that it will help put its US employees who work at least 20 hours a week through college.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Starbucks "is teaming up with Arizona State University to provide tuition reimbursement and financial aid to U.S. employees who enroll in the school's online bachelor's degree program. Starbucks employees can choose among 40 areas of study, ranging from retail management to electrical engineering.

"By responding to employees' concerns about how to afford a college education, the company said, it hopes to retain talent, thereby saving on hiring and training costs."

The story says that annual tuition for an online education can range between $3,000 and $10,000, "depending on the degree and course load." Starbucks' plan is to pick up at least half of those charges.

There will be no requirement that employees stay with Starbucks for any period of time after they get their degrees.

The Journal reports that "ASU President Michael Crow estimates the program will attract 15,000 to 20,000 Starbucks employees a year. The school has added 50 teachers, enrollment counselors and academic advisers to meet the demand the Starbucks deal is expected to create."
KC's View:
Well, that's one way to corner the market on superior and motivated employees.

There are companies that view employees as costs, and there are companies that view employees as assets. Starbucks clearly is in the latter group. In the current environment, I think this is a highly enlightened approach, and the kind of thing that can give a business a real leg up in the long-term.