All Learning Counts at Walmart: 5 Ways We’re Investing in More Opportunities To Grow

Sep. 28, 2023

Reece Niblett and Second Employee Standing Outside of Walmart Trucks

Reece Niblett is a proud Walmart truck driver with a great story and a unique skill set. Before becoming a driver, he worked in several roles at one of our supply chain facilities in Texas. Before coming to Walmart, he served our country as a Marine.

In all three places, he developed critical skills and experience that make him successful today. Reece does not hold a college degree, but there can be no doubt he has spent his career learning, making him a valuable asset to the company.

Walmart has committed to invest $1 billion in career-driven training and development by 2026, while Walmart.org* has made over $140 million in philanthropic investments over the last five years to build skills-based systems beyond the company. We share a goal: creating a world where all learning counts.

That way, people like Reece get credit for all the skills they possess, not just the college degrees they may or may not hold. Credit for everything – earning skills, experience and hard work – means more opportunities for everyone.

Combining our business and philanthropic efforts is helping create skills-based systems and hiring practices that allow people to see more career opportunities and be seen by employers for all the skills they have. That includes formal education, work experience, short-form credentials, volunteerism, military service and other life experience.

This starts at home with helping Walmart associates discover new opportunities. People come to Walmart for a job and stay for a career, and we’re constantly creating pathways to in-demand roles in our company. At the same time, the Walmart.org team is working to set the stage for this approach across other employers, educators, policymakers and workforce systems.

Ultimately, Walmart believes the U.S. workforce system needs to transition to a system that recognizes and understands skills in the same way it recognizes and understands college degrees. This gives talented, skilled workers who do not have degrees the same benefits as people who do. Harvard Business Review refers to this approach as the new-collar workforce.

We believe in leading by example. Here are five ways we’re doing this inside and outside our business:

1. Offering more short-form certificates focused on new skills

Associates can start working toward a college degree – paid for by Walmart – on day one of employment. However, over the past two years, we’ve made an intentional shift with our Live Better U education benefit to offer more short-form certificates that give associates the skills they need to quickly transition into in-demand jobs here at Walmart or beyond. 

We now offer around 25 short-form certificates through our partnership with Guild, compared to five in 2020. Associates can earn certificates for data analytics, cybersecurity, supply chain management and business economics, to name a few. We want people to stay and grow with us, so we’re making it easier to move up into roles with greater responsibility and higher pay.

2. Rewriting job descriptions to factor in skills

We’ve always been focused on eliminating unnecessary barriers for associates to advance in their careers. For example, 75% of salaried managers in U.S. stores, clubs and supply chain facilities started in hourly roles at Walmart – a prime example of our culture of promoting from within. We’ve never required degrees to hold these roles, which make approximately $113,000 a year.

We’re expanding that thinking as we evolve existing jobs, create new ones and look at the skills our business will need in the future. We’re rewriting job descriptions for our campus (headquarters) jobs to factor in the skills people possess, alongside any degrees they hold. This creates an either/or option for an applicant: to be considered for the job, you can have a related college degree or possess the skills needed for the job, whether through previous experience or other forms of learning.

Both options count. While degrees should be part of the equation and in some cases even required, there are many roles where a degree is simply unnecessary, including at corporate headquarters. For example, Walmart has made charitable grants available to benefit the Markle Foundation’s work to create tools that will help employers, including Walmart, put these practices in place.

Veterans like Reece are a prime example of prior experience that translates to future job opportunities. The Walmart.org team is working with Hire Heroes USA and The Manufacturing Institute to support transitioning veterans. 

Reece Niblett, Walmart Employee, Driving a Walmart Truck

3. Gaining degree credits through learning on the job and at Walmart Academy training

Some jobs still require college degrees, and we’re simplifying pathways for associates to get them. We’re working toward a system where associates can be almost halfway to a degree before even attending their first college class.

In this approach, associates earn credit hours for on-the-job training, attending training at one of our Walmart Academy locations and completing short-form certificates. This is a huge time-saver for busy adult working learners.

For its part, the Walmart.org team is invested to help learning providers operate this way, too. The team worked with Education Design Lab to create assessments and build new models that provide college credit for previously acquired skills. 

4. Using technology to connect associates to career opportunities

Many people – including many associates – do not realize the full depth and breadth of career pathways that exist at Walmart. In addition to retail roles, we have thousands of technology jobs across the country, one of the largest supply chains in the world and a growing number of truck drivers, product managers, engineers, designers, data scientists and health & wellness jobs. 

There are pathways to these jobs for frontline associates and our goal is to use technology to bring it all together. We’re working toward a future where we use our Me@Walmart and Me@Campus applications to give people a new level of control over their career, right in the palm of their hands. Associates will be able to simply enter their career preferences and skills into a Career section, and the apps will recommend personalized career paths, as well as in-demand openings within the company. 

The apps will even outline the steps associates need to take to reach a specific goal. We’ve partnered with our Walmart Global Tech team and Lightcast to create the back-end framework and algorithms for this data-driven system. We’ve piloted this technology with some associates and are working to expand to more.

Outside our company, the Walmart.org team has funded similar work to help the state of Arkansas implement a skills-based system.

5. Funding a skills-based ecosystem through Walmart.org

The work with the state of Arkansas is one of many examples. The Walmart.org team has been funding projects to make skills-based systems a reality for the past nine years. This month, the team is announcing an additional $5 million grant to Rockefeller Philanthropic Advisors and its SkillsFWD initiative, which is a multi-funder collaborative.

The project will focus on testing skills-based systems with real workers and employers in 5 to 8 communities and industries across the country over the next two years, bringing together states, coalitions, schools and NGOs.

Walmart and the Walmart.org team have plenty of work left to do. This is only the beginning of this transformation in HR practices and systems.

The end goal is bringing together the key players to connect more people to more opportunities. That goes for everyone – both outside the company and inside with our own amazing associates, like Reece.

We’re creating a path of opportunity for everyone.

* Walmart.org represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By focusing where the business has unique strengths, Walmart.org works to tackle key social and environmental issues and collaborate with others to spark long lasting systemic change.