- Walmart is expanding its Associate-to-Driver training program, offering employees at more than 400 stores, distribution centers and other locations a chance to earn six figures driving trucks for its private fleet, it announced Wednesday.
- Through the program, the company fully covers the cost of obtaining a commercial driver’s license and pays workers during the 12-week training to become a driver. Walmart offers long-haul drivers starting salaries as high as $110,000.
- A pilot of the program — offered last year to supply chain associates in Dover, Delaware, and Sacramento, California — trained 56 new truck drivers, according to Walmart. Another 252 employees plan to become drivers through the program this year.
The Associate-to-Driver program — an initiative proposed by employees — is part of Walmart’s broader strategy to recruit for its 13,000-driver fleet in a tough labor market. The company is among many who have used “earn-to-learn” training, apprenticeships and other creative strategies to staff their trucking operations.
The retail giant hopes to recruit 400 to 800 drivers for its private fleet from within its existing employee base, Walmart Senior Vice President of Transportation Fernando Cortes told sister publication Transport Dive in November.
If they’re interested in driving a truck, the salaried, six-figure jobs offered through the program represent an attractive opportunity for the retailer’s hourly workers. On average, supply chain workers make more than $20 an hour, and store associates make about $16.40 per hour, CFO Brett Biggs said during the 2022 UBS Global Consumer & Retail Conference.
Cortes described the internal driver recruitment campaign as a win-win in a company blog post.
“The program is a win for associates, who can take the next step in their career journey without leaving the company,” he wrote. “It’s a win for Walmart, as we can continue to invest in our talented team of associates.”
A shortage of truck drivers has been an ongoing challenge for retailers over the past few years. In October, the American Trucking Association reported 78,000 unfilled driver jobs, down slightly from the shortfall of just over 81,000 at the same point in 2021.