USA- Retail giant Walmart is set to roll out training programs and certifications for in-demand retail roles across its business, like technicians, IT experts, HVAC, and opticians, in a move meant to enhance the company’s talent pool. 

The training program’s first batch of trainees will be 100 warehouse and store associates in the Dallas-Fort Worth area who desire to work in highly skilled roles. These skilled jobs pay between US$19 and US$45 per hour, above the company’s US$17 minimum wage. 

Although those enrolled in the program are not required to work for the retailer after completion, Walmart reiterates that it requires these skills as it continues to optimize operations and incorporate advanced technologies like automation, AI, and robotics. 

The training program will also increase Walmart’s certifications to 50 from the current 5. These certifications will offer graduates an opportunity for career progression and is designed to give certifications in four months. 

The training program was inspired by the associate-to-driver program launched in early 2022 as a means of developing a key role in retail and truck driving. The program has helped produce more than 500 licensed drivers and significantly improved operational and supply chain efficiency.  

The company rolls out the training program at a time when it faces criticism over its labor relations and wages, which are often described as punitive. The retailer’s US$18 minimum wage, implemented in early 2023, is US$0.50 above the federally recommended minimum wage for companies with 500 employees or more. 

Walmat’s annual wage for its median employee is US$27,642 a year, which falls below the US$31,200 poverty line for a family of four, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. 

According to the competitors’ proxy reports, the company’s annual wages are slightly higher than Target’s US$26,696 and significantly lower than Amazon’s US$36,274. 

The training program is part of Walmart’s labor-relations strategy as it seeks to compete with Target and Amazon for skilled labor in the retail market.  

Walmart will also offer its hourly employees bonuses of up to US$1,000 as an incentive to continue working with the company, especially after completing the training program.  

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