Walmart on Tuesday announced plans to add 10,000 U.S. jobs and provide skills-building training to nearly a quarter-million of its workers by the end of 2017.
The vast majority of the new positions would be in its stores, including 59 Walmart and Sam’s Club sites it is set to open, remodel or expand. The company says this level of job growth is consistent with what it has delivered over the past several years.
In a news release outlining the plans, the world’s largest retailer sought to cast itself as an engine for U.S. employment growth.
“With a presence in thousands of communities and a vast supplier network, we know we play an important role in supporting and creating American jobs,” Dan Bartlett, Walmart’s executive vice president for corporate affairs, said in the release.
That kind of messaging comes at a moment when President-elect Donald Trump has been sharply critical of companies that have moved jobs abroad or created new manufacturing facilities overseas.
In an interview, The Washington Post asked Bartlett whether he thinks the current political environment made it particularly crucial to talk up Walmart’s employment strategies.
“It’s always important to articulate how you’re creating jobs in your country,” Bartlett said. “Obviously, the conversation happening in our country right now, there’s a role for the private sector to have a voice in that conversation. And I think companies should be proud to stand up and talk about how they’re making positive contributions in their communities. So the timing seems right.”
Other companies, too, have recently touted their commitment to creating domestic jobs. Earlier this month, when Stanley Black & Decker bought the Craftsman tool brand, it said it would be manufacturing those products stateside and growing its U.S. workforce to do so. Amazon.com said last week that it intends to add 100,000 positions nationwide over the next 18 months. (Jeffrey P. Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, owns The Post.)
Along with the 10,000 positions Walmart plans to add in 2017, the company says it expects its investments would support an additional 24,000 construction jobs. The retailer had previously announced that it plans to spend $6.8 billion this year to build or remodel stores and to establish new e-commerce distribution centers, moves that should foster demand in the construction business. The company developed this projection based on historical data about how many construction workers it has needed for such projects in the past.
Meanwhile, Walmart will also continue its effort to attract and retain talent by expanding its Academies program that provides special training for store workers. This year, it will open about 160 new Academies to offer this kind of instruction, a sharp jump over the 40 it has today.
“We’re really putting the foot on the gas pedal and just investing in this training, because we see the immediate benefit of it,” Bartlett said.
By adding more Academies, the company says, it will be able to offer up to six weeks of training to more than 225,000 workers.
Walmart, like others in corporate America, has an especially close eye on Washington these days, waiting to see the details of plans from the incoming Trump administration and Congress that could dramatically reshape trade policy or corporate tax rules.
But, Bartlett said, “it’s way premature to try to calculate the puts and takes of the various policies that have been discussed.”
That’s in part because corporations have not yet heard the specifics of what these plans will call for.
But, he said, as more details emerge, they have a framework for evaluating them. “The lens that we typically look at these things is: How does it affect our customers?” he said.
Walmart also identified on Tuesday the recipients of $3 million in grants that the Walmart Foundation is providing to six universities for studies of innovation in textile manufacturing, part of an earlier commitment it had made to funding research grants for projects on how to make textiles more sustainably and to make more of them stateside.