What Is the Walmart Academy In 2023? (All You Need to Know) - 33rd Square (2024)

You may have heard about the Walmart Academy and wondered – what is it exactly and why does Walmart have it?

This training program has graduated over 150,000 employees so far, so it’s clearly serious about investing in their workforce.

Let’s explore everything you need to know about the Walmart Academy: what the training entails, how it benefits employees, why Walmart started it, how many locations there are, and more.

By the end, you’ll see how this innovative program helps empower Walmart’s associates to succeed in their careers.

What Exactly is the Walmart Academy?

The Walmart Academy first launched in 2016 and is an educational training program available to all Walmart associates in the US, whether hourly retail workers or salaried managers.

The goal is to invest in Walmart’s workforce and enhance their skills through training and development. Associates gain knowledge and hands-on practice in areas like:

  • Retail fundamentals – customer service, merchandising, store operations
  • Leadership and people management
  • Technology platforms used by Walmart
  • Soft skills like communication, time management, and problem solving

The immersive curriculum empowers associates to:

  • Deliver excellent customer service experiences
  • Pursue leadership and management career paths
  • Build transferable skills for career advancement

This training aims to benefit both the associates through career development and Walmart through increased performance.

So in summary, the Walmart Academy offers Walmart employees:

  • Career development opportunities to gain in-demand retail skills
  • Advanced training using innovative formats like VR
  • Pathways to leadership roles through management development
  • Skills to succeed broadly in the retail industry

Now that you understand the basics of what the Academy offers, let’s look at why Walmart decided to create this program.

Why Walmart Developed the Academy

Walmart had both associate-focused and business motivations for creating the Walmart Academy program back in 2016.

For associates, Walmart wanted to invest in their development and foster advancement opportunities. Retail has historically been seen as a dead-end job with minimal career mobility. The Academy changes that perception.

Specifically, Walmart wanted to:

  • Cultivate talent within the company rather than always recruiting externally
  • Empower associate growth by equipping them with future-proof skills
  • Increase retention rates by enhancing engagement and satisfaction through training

From a business standpoint, Walmart also recognized benefits:

  • Better trained associates deliver a superior customer experience
  • Higher performing stores when staff operate more efficiently
  • Develops future leaders able to move up into managerial roles

According to Walmart, the Academy led to tangible improvements like increased customer satisfaction scores, higher sales, and lower turnover rates.

By investing in the Academy, Walmart realized it could do well by also doing good for its workforce. This led to a winning value proposition.

Now let’s examine exactly how many associates have participated in the Academy to date.

Walmart Academy Participation and Graduation Rates

The Walmart Academy has rapidly expanded since its inception in 2016. Here are some key facts about participation rates:

  • Over 150,000 associates have graduated from Academy training so far
  • In 2022 alone, over 52,000 Walmart associates completed training programs
  • Currently over 200 Academy locations exist nationwide with plans for continued growth
  • Walmart aims to train over 300,000 associates per year by 2025

Both hourly retail workers and salaried managers take advantage of the training opportunities.

These high participation rates demonstrate how valued and popular the Academy has become. Associates recognize the career benefits.

For context, Walmart employs over 1.6 million Americans. So over 10% of the workforce has already graduated from the Academy, with more signing up every day.

Clearly this program is empowering associates to develop new skills at scale. Let’s look at how much Walmart has invested to make this possible.

Walmart Has Invested Over $2.7 Billion in the Academy

Offering training at this scale requires major investment – and Walmart has stepped up to the plate.

Walmart has devoted over $2.7 billion to build and run the Academy program since its 2016 launch. Funds have covered:

  • Constructing and operating over 200 dedicated Academy facilities
  • Developing extensive proprietary curricula and digital learning materials
  • Compensating associates for time spent in paid training

Additionally, Walmart has invested:

  • $565 million in wage increases since 2016, elevating average pay to over $17/hour
  • $1 billion to subsidize higher education through their Live Better U program

This data shows Walmart’s willingness to put major dollars behind workforce skill-building. Associates have taken notice.

Many retail employees consider training budgets the first place companies cut corners. So Walmart’s billions of dollars invested really backs up its rhetoric around employee empowerment.

Now let’s look at what the actual Academy training classes involve for associates.

Inside Walmart Academy Training Classes

To maximize engagement and retention, Walmart Academy classes immerse associates in experiential, technology-enabled sessions.

Associates have praised the training for its engaging, fast-paced format. Here are some key characteristics:

  • Hands-on simulations – Associates practice skills in real-world store scenarios
  • Digital modules – Interactive eLearning allows self-paced learning
  • Short focused lessons – Game-like modules maintain energy levels
  • Cutting edge technology – VR, machine learning, simulations
  • Coaching and mentoring – Support from veteran Walmart staff
  • Customized for each role – Training aligns with associate’s job
  • Leader development – Managers gain coaching and team leadership skills

Rather than boring lectures or manuals to read, associates are immersed in experiential projects that engage various learning styles.

Walmart continues to refine training methods by incorporating data analysis and human-centered design. The focus lies on empowering adult learners to gain confidence and competence.

Associates have provided overwhelmingly positive feedback on the Academy experience. Let’s look at some examples of actual training curriculum.

Walmart Academy Training Curriculum Examples

The Walmart Academy training curriculum focuses on both retail-specific skills as well as general professional development.

Here are some examples of courses:

Retail Skills Training

  • Customer Service Foundations
  • Inventory Management
  • Proper Food Handling
  • Store Design and Merchandising
  • Technology Platform Training
  • Compliance and Ethics

Leadership Development

  • Coaching and Mentoring Associates
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Managing Complex Projects
  • Resolving Workplace Conflicts
  • Strategic Planning and Execution

Professional Skills

  • Communications and Public Speaking
  • Problem Solving with Design Thinking
  • Time Management and Prioritization
  • Analyzing Data to Drive Decisions
  • Building relationships and Influence

Associates take courses relevant for their department and role. The wide range caters to diverse learning needs.

Experiential formats like role-playing customer interactions make the experience engaging. Associates then apply these learnings on the sales floor.

Now that you understand the Academy curriculum, let’s examine outcomes for graduates.

Outcomes and Benefits for Walmart Academy Graduates

150,000+ Academy graduates have gained skills that empower them to advance their careers, whether at Walmart or elsewhere.

Here are some of the benefits and outcomes associates have received:

  • Increased confidence in their work, leading to higher engagement
  • Expanded skillsets like leadership and technology fluency
  • Better performance converting to higher sales and customer satisfaction
  • Promotion opportunities – over 75% of current store managers are internal promotes
  • Higher earning potential from gaining new skills and experience
  • Industry-recognized credentials through certain classes
  • Improved soft skills like communication, empathy, and strategic thinking
  • Professional connections with fellow associates during training

Associates report feeling invested in by Walmart thanks to the training opportunities. Many say they feel like they have a true career path now rather than just a retail job.

The skills and confidence boost from the Academy pays dividends across associates’ careers. Next, let’s examine how Walmart delivers training through both physical and virtual Academy locations.

Walmart Academies: Physical and Virtual

Walmart delivers immersive Academy training through over 200 physical Academy locations supplemented by virtual offerings.

Physical Walmart Academies feature specialized classrooms, mock store environments, and dedicated technology tools. They provide optimal in-person learning.

Here are some of the larger Academy sites:

  • Loveland, CO
  • Crawfordsville, IN
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Laurel, MD
  • Federal Way, WA

Virtual training enables associates across the country to take online courses or live remote classes. This expands accessibility.

Formats include:

  • Interactive eLearning modules
  • Live virtual instructor-led sessions
  • Augmented reality training apps
  • VR educational experiences

By blending physical and virtual training, associates can access Academy courses conveniently. tech enables scalability.

Next let’s clarify the difference between the Walmart Academy and Walmart’s Community Academy program.

How Walmart Academy Differs from the Community Academy

You may be wondering – how does the Walmart Academy differ from Walmart’s Community Academy?

While the names sound similar, these programs have distinct missions:

Walmart Academy – Internal training for Walmart associates to develop retail and leadership skills.

Walmart Community Academy – Provides free educational classes to community members in skills like technology, finance, and health.

So in summary:

  • Walmart Academy: For Walmart employees

  • Community Academy: For general public

The Community Academy leverages existing Academy facilities to offer classes to the public as a community service. But the two academies have separate curricula and target audiences.

Associates sometimes volunteer to support Community Academy events as a way to give back. This enables Walmart to invest in both its workforce and local communities.

The Community Academy Provides Free Skills Training

A key aspect of the Walmart Community Academy is that all classes are free for members of the public to attend.

Some focus areas include:

  • Basic computer skills
  • Personal finance and budgeting
  • Applying for college and financial aid
  • Job interview preparation
  • Healthy living and disease prevention
  • Home maintenance skills

People of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to sign up and participate.

By removing barriers to education access, Walmart aims to empower communities with skills for employment and self-sufficiency. Beyond associates, the Community Academy allows Walmart to invest in marginalized populations and widen economic mobility.

Walmart Offers Industry-Leading Associate Benefits

In addition to the career development opportunities provided by the Academy, Walmart also offers leading pay and benefits.

This combination makes Walmart a highly attractive retail employer.

Pay

  • Minimum wage of $12/hour – over 50% above federal minimum
  • Average pay of over $17/hour for full-time workers

Benefits

  • Scheduling predictability – Receive schedules weeks in advance
  • 10% store discount – Save on purchases
  • 401(k) matching – 6% match to help save for retirement
  • Parental leave – Get 10 weeks paid maternity and 6 weeks paternal leave
  • Adoption assistance – Up to $5,000 to support adopting a child
  • Telehealth – Free access to doctors 24/7 via Doctor on Demand
  • College tuition assistance – Discounted higher education through Live Better U

With competitive pay and perks like parental leave, Walmart exceeds retail industry norms. Combined with the Academy training, this cements Walmart as a destination employer.

Conclusion: Why the Walmart Academy Matters

The Walmart Academy demonstrates a retail giant focused on the future.

By investing billions in associate training and development, Walmart aims to transform the retail workforce into skilled professionals equipped to deliver excellence.

Rather than view education as an expense, Walmart embraces it as an investment that pays exponential dividends. Beyond creating business value, Walmart has built a ladder of opportunity for associates.

For you as a shopper, this training means associates provide better service and expertise in helping you find desired products. You get a better experience.

And for Walmart associates, they can access tangible career advancement, not just temporary gigs.

With over 150,000 graduates transformed by the Academy so far, the future looks bright. We can expect workforce training programs like this to become the new normal in retail.

So next time you’re shopping the aisles at Walmart, remember the associates helping you may be gaining knowledge to grow a career. The power of skills uplifts us all.

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