Papa Johns is no newcomer to the concept of higher education benefiting a company and its employees. Its “Dough and Degrees” program, launched in 2019, already allows employees of company-owned stores to attend college at no charge through online university partners, explains a press release published by Business Wire. They can choose any field of study, and the benefit crosses the spectrum of employee positions, including frontline restaurant workers, delivery drivers, and corporate positions.
The company’s announcement in September 2022 builds on that program in substantial ways. First, the Dough and Degrees tuition perks now apply to any corporate employee team member who works at least 10 hours weekly, expanding the pool of eligible participants. CNBC notes how about 12,000 employees could potentially benefit from free college degrees. Working with EdAssist by Bright Horizons, it will also expand the scope of education programs. In addition to undergraduate and graduate degrees, new benefits include earning high school diplomas and English as a Second Language (ESL) courses. Around 200 professional development courses cover fields such as technology, marketing, business, and finance, leading to professional certificate degrees. Employees of franchised venues receive discounts instead of free education.
A distinction of the Papa Johns approach is that, unlike some others, the tuition gets paid upfront by the company rather than being reimbursed, notes QSR Magazine. Making education easily accessible encourages participation. Jill Buban from EdAssist tells CNBC that it makes sense to financially upskill existing employees rather than recruit new ones.