Walmart wants to help the public tackle some everyday life situations that can be hurdles for many people, such as writing a résumé, budgeting, buying a car or home, and preparing for a standardized test.

The retailer said Wednesday it will use a network of training academies it has developed for employees since 2016 to offer free virtual classes to the public. Classes will be taught by Walmart instructors who have led more than 2 million training sessions teaching skills and leadership to its own staff. That program started in Texas, where Walmart has more than 172,000 workers.

Walmart said it has now developed a “community curriculum” with its own experts and industry leaders.

The idea began with a question of how the company could help “communities struggling economically and where education is sometimes out of reach,” said Andy Trainor, vice president of learning at Walmart.

“We recognized a need that we’re uniquely suited to fill,” Trainor said. “Our goal is to help people invest in themselves, increase upward mobility and create fundamentally stronger communities as a result.”

Registration for the 90-minute virtual courses is available online. Class topics include résumé building and interview skills, personal finance, standardized test preparation and navigating college admissions.

Courses are grouped under five overall themes: community, personal finance, home, career progression and technology. The program is open to teens starting at age 16.

Trainor said topics will be expanded throughout the year and future ideas include taxes, entrepreneurship and civic engagement. For now, all of the courses are in English, but that could change, too.

Eventually the classes will be held in person at the academies that Walmart has built inside stores and distribution centers. Employees can take the classes, too, on their own time, Walmart said.

Walmart has more than 200 training academies in the U.S., including 22 in Texas. The employee training program opened its first location in 2016 at the Walmart Supercenter on East Trinity Mills in Carrollton. The first distribution center academy opened in 2019 in Sanger.

Retailers are at the center of the higher minimum and living wage debates. The industry’s entry-level, low-paying jobs have been a target for years. Big retailers including Amazon, Target and Walmart have increased hourly wages in recent years, but the federal minimum wage is still stuck at $7.25 an hour.

Walmart started the training program to help its workers gain new skills and get promoted into the retailer’s higher-paying jobs. A store manager at Walmart makes an average of $180,000 a year.

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