Papa John’s International Inc., said it has teamed up with Purdue University Global to provide free tuition for its 20,000 corporate employees as well as “significant” reductions for franchisees’ employees who enroll in the online degree program.
Employees at the pizza chain are eligible for free tuition at the online-only institution if they have worked more than 20 hours per week for at least 90 days. They can pursue 180 different degrees, including those outside specific hospitality programs, such as accounting, finance, cybersecurity and information technology. Textbooks and course materials are included in the offer, and the application fee is waived. Employees can enroll in programs for associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees.
Franchisees’ employees will receive a 20-percent tuition reduction for associate and bachelor’s degrees and a 14 percent reduction for master’s degrees, as well as waived application fees. Course materials also will be paid for, a company spokesperson said.
A little less than a quarter of Papa John’s 2,729 North American locations, as of Sept. 30, 2018, were company owned. The rest were franchised. The company also franchised 1,840 units overseas as of that date.
In an email, a company representative said the tuition offer is part of a broader effort that began last year to improve Papa John’s employee benefits.
An associate’s degree in accounting from Purdue University Global normally costs $33,390, and a bachelor’s degree in that field costs $66,780, according to a Purdue customer service representative.
“People are our most important ingredient and we are always looking for new ways to make Papa John’s a better place to work,” Papa John’s president and CEO Steve Ritchie said in a press release. “We believe this is a truly unique tuition program in our industry. We’re excited to partner with such a well-respected institution to help us deliver on such a robust career growth opportunity for team members who want to pursue their goals and further their education.”
Papa John’s new chief people officer, Marvin Boakye, who was appointed in January, said in the release that Papa John’s wants to be “an employer of choice in the marketplace.”
“This new tuition benefit program not only provides our team members with a tremendous career growth opportunity, but it gives us a competitive advantage in the marketplace that will make us better as an organization,” he added.
Purdue University Global chancellor Betty Vandenbosch said in a statement that the school was “delighted” with the arrangement.
“Our new relationship with Papa John’s is an example of how we can help organizations meet the increasing demand for educated and trained workers, while creating a personalized, high-quality education for students that fits their busy schedules,” she said.
Purdue Global’s program is designed to allow working adults to pursue their degrees at their own pace.
Apart from trying to improve employee satisfaction in a very challenging labor market, this move also comes in the wake of a difficult year for Papa John’s that included accusations of a toxic corporate culture and conflict between current management and founder and former CEO John Schnatter.
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary