Kudos to Fiat Chrysler for initiating a program to provide free college education for dealership personnel.
Under the "no cost, no debt" plan, FCA US dealership employees can take free classes from Strayer University online or at any of its 77 campuses. Strayer is a private, for-profit accredited university based in Washington, D.C., offering associate's, bachelor's or master's degrees in 40 fields of study.
FCA US and participating dealers front all tuition, books and fees. So unlike a similar effort by Starbucks, FCA US employees don't pay upfront and wait to be reimbursed.
FCA US addresses an urgent need for dealerships to stem appallingly high turnover and attract and retain good employees.
It's enlightened self-interest.
Workers can pursue higher education while employed.
FCA US and dealers hope to reduce the high cost of training the current revolving door of workers, get a work force better able to relate to customers and attract people who otherwise wouldn't consider auto retailing.
To encourage participation, FCA US charges dealerships a flat monthly fee no matter how many employees take part.
FCA US started in the southeast and will go national by fall. The program may need adjustments, but the potential is huge for the 118,000 employees at FCA US's 2,600 dealerships.
FCA US and its dealers are to be commended for an innovative approach to a vexing problem.