Walmart is now offering free online classes to help people polish their résumés, manage their money and buy a house or car.
The 90-minute courses will eventually be offered in person as well, said Andy Trainor, Walmart's vice president of U.S. learning. Registration is available online.
Walmart Community Academy classes are offered on various days of the week at various times and allow students to interact with instructors. When they become available in person, they will be held at one of Walmart's 200 training academies, including at the Lima Road superstore.
Which courses will be offered at each training center will depend on local demand, Trainor said. If someone wants to take a class not offered locally, the student can register for an online session, he said.
Everyone in a community benefits when others get more education and training, Trainor said during a phone interview. He's based at corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Walmart created training academies – and hired more than 2,000 instructors – a few years ago to train employees.
The world's largest retailer decided to open its classes to the public to address the inequality in access to education and skills training, Trainor said. He said the program would have happened anyway, but its timing was accelerated by last year's protests.
The courses are grouped into five categories – community, personal finance, home, career progression and technology. Plans call for adding classes in each category and creating more categories, Trainor said.
“In developing our Community Academy curriculum, we leveraged Walmart's own subject matter experts and worked with industry leaders to ensure our content is best-in-class,” he wrote this week in a blog post.
“All community courses will be taught by our Walmart Academy facilitators, true learning professionals who have guided our store associates through more than 2 million Academy training sessions on topics ranging from store processes to leadership and soft skills.”
Among the available classes are sessions on standardized test preparation and how to navigate college admissions – courses especially valuable to high school students.
The most popular classes during a six-month trial period addressed how to use Zoom technology and handling personal finances, Trainor said. Many students were parents learning how to help their children, who were taking classes online.
“Our goal,” Trainor said, “is to help people invest in themselves, increase upward mobility and create fundamentally stronger communities as a result.”