Wal-Mart to open local training center

May 1st, 2017

30 area stores to send workers; academy at Lima Road property

By Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

The world's largest retailer isn't content to coast on customer service.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is launching a training academy in the back of its Lima Road store Thursday, a corporate spokeswoman told The Journal Gazette. It will be the second in Indiana.

Employees from about 30 area stores will be sent here to train.

The local training center is one of 200 scheduled to open in the U.S. by the end of this year, continuing an effort that started in early 2016.

Anne Hatfield, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman in Texas, said officials believe the combination of classroom and hands-on training will pay off in an improved shopping experience. Workers will also benefit.

“We're not only providing that consistent training – the one best way, but we're giving associates the tools they need to succeed at their jobs,” she said.

Companywide, 75 percent of store managers joined the company as hourly workers, Hatfield said. Even Doug McMillon, Wal-Mart's president and CEO, began as an hourly employee in a company distribution center.

“There are literally so many opportunities with the company,” Hatfield said, adding that some employees earn more than $24 an hour. Store managers, she added, make more than $100,000 a year, plus benefits. 

Erica Jones, a company spokeswoman in Arkansas, said one of the academy's goals is to build a stronger talent pipeline.

Content for the academy classes depends on an employee's position. Two weeks of classes – 10 eight-hour days – are being offered to hourly supervisors and department managers.

Assistant store managers receive five weeks of training. 

Hourly supervisors and department managers will learn core retail fundamentals and how to have productive conversations with employees and shoppers, Jones said.

The first week, she said, is “just really teaching them how to take ownership and pride in their work.”

The second week is dedicated to training specific to the department they're assigned to, such as bakery, frozen foods, apparel and automotive.

Assistant managers' training focuses on running the area they have responsibility for, such as the pharmacy, grocery, and home and garden.

Employees in about 65 varied job positions go through the training. Rather than training in home stores under supervisors, the academy allows training from specialists within Wal-Mart. 

“This is kind of the next evolution in training for our associates,” Jones said.

By the end of this year, an estimated 225,000 U.S. store employees will have completed training, she said. Wal-Mart expects to train 240,000 associates a year starting in 2018.