- The KFC Foundation will offer tuition-free higher education to eligible KFC employees through a partnership with Western Governors University starting in February, KFC announced Tuesday.
- To qualify, workers must “be employed at a KFC restaurant participating in the KFC Foundation's Annual Franchise Donation Program and in good standing,” according to the company statement.
- The foundation is a non-competitive program, meaning every eligible employees who enrolls will be covered, the company said.
The efficacy and enrollment of such tuition programs as retention solutions is unclear. The quit rate in foodservice hovered above 5.5% throughout the second half of 2022, according to Burea of Labor Statistics data, though a handful of corporate tuition programs in the restaurant space are unlikely to have a measurable impact on industrywide turnover.
KFC didn’t clarify before press time what fraction of franchised restaurants participate in the KFC Foundation’s donation program or how many employees work at participating restaurants. The educational benefit is available to employees as soon as they join KFC, according to the press release, though the company didn’t comment on what qualifies as “in good standing.”
The tuition assistance at WGU extends to about 60 bachelors, masters and certification programs, according to the press release. WGU offers enrollment in online programs on a rolling, monthly basis and offers courses that are structured around assessments based on content mastery, rather than a time-based, semester schedule.
Outside of the WGU partnership, the program also offers scholarships of up to $20,000 to “the two- or four-year college, trade school or graduate school of their choice,” according to the press release. The 501c3 nonprofit is funded by a portion of the sales of the company’s Secret Recipe Fries, donated by franchisees in an annual giving initiative, as well as at-register donations and other, unspecified programs.
Discounted tuition and scholarships have become a point of competition between restaurant chains vying to retain workers and attract new talent amid a tightening labor market.
Last April, Chick-Fil-A announced $24 million in employee scholarships, some of which were funded by sales of the brand’s bottled sauces. Brinker International extended its education benefits to one eligible family member of managerial employees in May. In September, Papa John’s lowered the eligibility requirements for its Dough and Degrees program. At the time, however, the program had only seen 60 employees graduate and 250 enroll out of 12,000 eligible workers, at a cost of $3.5 million over three years. Mod Pizza made tuition-free education available as a benefit for about 10,000 workers at corporate-owned stores late last year.