Disney is coming off of an incredible 2018, a year in which the company purchased Fox and the movie studio shattered earnings records. Perhaps just as impressive is the company's newest initiative: Offering its employees a free college education.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Disney is one of the major companies, alongside Discover Financial Services and Taco Bell, that is now paying for college for its front-line workers. According to the report, these companies believe that shelling out for higher education for its employees will lead to a better-trained staff and more upward movement internally.
Disney launched its college initiative back in August for 85,000 employees and, within a matter of months, more than 1,000 had enrolled.
“We want to create upward mobility for our employees and, more than anything else, for people to be able to look ahead and see greater opportunity than they had before,” said Disney chief Bob Iger.
The Walt Disney Company plans to spend around $50 million on the education of its employees by mid-2019, and then an additional $25 million per year after that.
“This program has the ability to increase the pride people have in what they do here, and what they’re capable of doing,” Iger added. “It makes people feel good about themselves.”
WSJ spoke with 59-year-old J'Amy Pacheco, who works as a tour guide at Disneyland in Anaheim, California and is pursuing her bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Denver. She dropped out of college almost 30 years ago to be a working mother, but Disney's new initiative has finally given her the opportunity to go back and finish school. At this point, Ms. Pacheco will earn her degree with two more years of online courses.
“It’s been a life-changing experience for me,” she said. “This is something I never thought I would achieve, finishing a degree I set out to receive so many years ago.”