Most students will live within 40 to 50 miles of an academy, says Walmart. Each store with an academy will have 15 to 17 extra workers, mostly managers, designed to serve as mentors to new employees while they apply their new skills in Walmart's some 4,600 U.S. stores. The training program will take two weeks, and employees get compensated for their time and travel.
The first academy opened on Feb. 20, the same day the world's largest retailer lifted wages for over 1.2 million workers. Walmart pointed out that stores with an academy have seen improved customer service scores.
"There is a war for talent, we realize the retail environment is changing," said a Walmart executive at its annual shareholder's meeting in June. When asked by TheStreet if Walmart fears losing its newly-trained employees to competing retailers, the executive said the company believes such training investments can help it keep employees happy and stay because they gain confidence they'll eventually be promoted.