Corporate university education giants like Wal-Mart, Apple, and Disney have long dominated retail and hospitality markets through the sheer size of their franchise and employee base. In recent years, however, all of these businesses made the decision to hone their employee’s life skills through training programs called Wal-Mart Academy, Apple University and Disney University. These programs claim to “build transferable skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, guest service and effective communication”, but their true nature does not appear to be as promised.
The core objective of Wal-Mart Academy, Apple University, and Disney University is to instruct employees about the history of the corporation they’re working for, the image each one strives to project, and how each employee can contribute positively to the corporation’s culture. Employees are offered incentives to complete company courses, and even just to be invited to attend, which can leave employees hanging onto promises of a better life for years on end. Wal-Mart often promises employees pay raises if they complete coursework at their academy, as well as the opportunity to rise through the ranks and become a salaried store manager. Apple University’s courses are not even advertised on the company’s website and are only offered as a reward to high-level employees like corporate managers. This attitude towards company education strings employees along as they hope to gain skills that will help them build a better future for themselves when they are simply just building a better future for their company.
Disney University requires mandatory attendance from all of its cast members and is also offered to college students willing to work at one of the corporation’s locations. If college students choose to participate in the program, they are required to pay for housing in the chosen resort, which can cost hundreds out of pocket. Again, these employees are supposedly trained to better themselves for future career opportunities, but their course material is so limited that it is only relevant within the specific corporate culture.
The next time you think further education at any level is beneficial, do your research. Corporations are indeed educating their employees, but only to survive in a singular setting.