- Walmart will provide a $4 million grant to the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC), allowing it to launch 10 new retail sector partnerships with local workforce development boards. The public-private collaborations will enable educators and other stakeholders to work with retail employers to design training programs that support career advancement for frontline workers, according to Walmart.
- The grant is part of a five-year, $100 million Walmart and Walmart Foundation initiative to help retail and other front-facing workers upskill and advance in their careers. The two organizations have provided more than $80 million so far, according to a press release.
- The initiative recently provided grants to the Foundation for California Community Colleges, Code for America and edX for workforce training.
As a major U.S. employer, Walmart has made retail workforce investment a priority. Earlier this year, it partnered with Google to provide $5 million for organizations testing reskilling solutions aimed at aligning workers' skills with employers' future roles.
At the same time, it has been on the cutting edge of learning and technology with its own training initiatives. It recently expanded its use of virtual reality to every store in the U.S., making the tech available to employees for a variety of upskilling modules. The company even used the simulators to ready employees for huge holiday shopping crowds like those that storm stores on Black Friday.
The company also rebranded its employee development while giving employees access to online learning for degrees in business or supply chain management at little cost. Through the program, employees also are assigned a coach to help them navigate the programming.
Walmart is not the only employer looking at opportunities to upskill its current and future workforce. Colleges are taking notice, and many see workforce development becoming a bigger priority. Several tech employers have developed curriculum that can be offered for credit by colleges, creating a bigger pool of potential workers from which to recruit.
Other partnerships aim to help prospective employees qualify their skills. For example, in August, digital credentialing provider Credly teamed up with the nonprofit Education Design Lab to build out badges in soft skills needed in the workplace, such as oral communication, creative problem solving and critical thinking. Colleges and universities can then authorize the badges.