The Dallas Morning News
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — This may be a good year to be recruited and promoted at Walmart.
Walmart executives said at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday that it had launched a pilot program to give college graduates and those graduating within a year, including Walmart employees, a stepping stone to management.
Through the College2Career program, they are offered a job as an “emerging coach” with a starting salary of at least $65,000 per year. These positions offer the opportunity to move into store management in as little as two years and earn a six-figure salary.
Walmart store managers received an average salary of $210,000 last year, and the stores they run are each like a big business under one roof with average annual sales of $100 million and 300 employees.
The retailer has more than 5,300 stores in the United States and said it has 1,200 new Walmart, Sam’s Club and supply chain managers it puts through what it calls a “leadership experience immersive”.
That’s a lot of new executive-level hires, but Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president, associate learning and leadership, said the number also includes fulfillment and distribution centers.
“Life happens,” Stomski said. The company has listened carefully to its workers during the pandemic and while there has been a lot of talk about the “big quit,” she said, there has been just as much “resetting” or people trying to new jobs within the company.
The company is training people for jobs that didn’t exist a few years ago, like home delivery specialists, Stomski said.
Walmart plans to hire 3,000 people for the service that delivers groceries to customers’ refrigerators. It starts in Dallas later this summer.
Walmart said it is also extending in-house training and college benefits to employees in its markets outside the United States.
“We truly believe that we have a way forward for all of our associates,” said Donna Morris, chief human resources officer at Walmart. She added that the company has jobs that aren’t in traditional retail either, such as healthcare, financial services, cybersecurity and advertising.
Morris said she emphasizes wellness, including physical, financial and emotional health. She said “the next pandemic could be about mental health” and the company is working with frontline store workers to make their working hours more flexible.
CEO Doug McMillon told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting on Wednesday that the goal is to continue to offer competitive salaries and benefits and to advance more employees into leadership positions. About 75% of Walmart employees in store management and supply chain jobs started in hourly positions.
“Our goal is to turn even more jobs into careers by strengthening a ladder of opportunity for our associates,” McMillon said. Walmart’s average hourly wage is now $17 in the US
Under McMillon, Walmart conducted in-store and distribution center training at 200 regional Walmart Academy locations that each serve approximately 26 stores.
Texas was the first state to get one of the academies in 2016 with a location in Carrollton. In 2019, it opened its first fulfillment center academy in Sanger, north of Dallas in Denton County.
Additionally, stores train using virtual reality headsets to simulate real-life scenarios and 700 learning modules on mobile devices. At the end of last year, Walmart said more than 411,000 US employees had received training at the academies.
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