With 1.6 million employees in the United States, the largest employer in the country, Walmart does not stop hiring people in its more than 5,200 stores and at its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. The Herculean task changed this fall, when the company said many of the workers would no longer need a college degree.
“We are rewriting job descriptions in our schools to take into account people’s skills in addition to the degrees they hold,” Walmart said in a business blog post. in late September, co-authored by Lorraine Stomski, vice president of education and leadership. , and Julie Gehrki, vice president of financial aid. “To be considered for the job, you can have a college degree or have the skills necessary for the job, through experience or other education.”
Walmart’s announcement coincides with the trend of many large companies in industries ranging from technology to automobiles and consulting, such as Google, IBM, Tesla, GM and Accenture, hiring people to do work necessary to perform tasks sometimes called “new tasks.”
It also comes amid growing debate about the value of a college education, long considered a prerequisite for landing a job and improving career prospects, and concerns about student debt. Labor shortages, efforts to diversify the workforce, and the introduction of artificial intelligence into the workforce are also changing hiring and retention.
“We really believe that every lesson counts,” Stomski said in an interview in late October, before Walmart’s earnings quiet period began on Nov. 1. “We want look at these jobs and say: What do they really want? Yes, many of them will need a college degree, but many of them do not. We are not saying that a college degree is not count. we are saying that for many of us work in school is a problem.
The starting point for creating Walmart’s new hiring strategy, according to Stomski, will be to identify the jobs that are most in demand at your company and the specific skills needed for them, and then decide whether college is worth it. However, employees will be able to use the company’s professional and training platform, Live Better U, which offers free college tuition at partner organizations such as Southern New Hampshire. University, University of Arizona and University of Denver. “If you want a college degree, you can get it for nothing,” Stomski said.
Walmart is one of the major retailers, Target is another example, which has partnered with the learning platform Guild to facilitate access to the free.
In addition to bachelor’s and degree programs, Live Better U also offers 25 short certificates – professional courses completed in less than one year – in business-level fields such as accounting monitoring, cybersecurity (the gap between vacant and skilled jobs is wide), supply chain management and business operations. “In the past year, people are looking for a degree in cybersecurity,” says Stomski. “Now they can get a cybersecurity certificate in six to nine months.”
Ben Wildavsky, a visiting professor at the University of Virginia who studies education and skills development, and author of “The Career Arts: Making the Most of College, Credentials, and Connections,” believes that Walmart is leading the way. “They are trying to create an ecosystem in the organization that creates capacity, but also allows you to get credits for short certificates that, in general, can help It’s all about fitting into people’s lives. A way that works for them,” he said.
At the same time, Wildavsky said that neglecting the value of higher education is a mistake. “We have to admit that what economists call the human capital theory of degree value is true. That means that when you go to college and get a degree, it not just a piece of paper. People learn real things in school.”
Walmart also mentions this.
“This is not about getting rid of colleges,” Stomski said, adding that many of Walmart’s affiliate programs will continue to require them. “It can be ‘and,’ meaning you can come with some college and add to it with skills and experience,” he said.
CREATION OF A CLASS OF WORK AND SERVICES
According to Wildavsky, in addition to the specific skills acquired in popular professions such as teaching, nursing or computer science, general university education also teaches skills that are not is wisdom, often called intelligence. “They learn to communicate, work as a team on projects, plan and work overtime. That’s why it’s important to follow what Walmart does,” he said. which is trying to make all of these more powerful.
Stomski agreed that college students can learn to think critically and solve problems, but “those (skills) are not unique to college,” he said. “You can gain experience by serving in the Marines,” he added.
The global economy is not the only major market in which this change is taking place, and it is argued that it is already more established in the public sector. On Tuesday, Minnesota announced that the state would no longer require advanced degrees for most state jobs, becoming the latest in a growing list of states to waive the two- or four-year ban.
Examples of Walmart jobs that may not require a college degree include operations and sales, but Stomski declined to be more specific. As for the jobs that would be included in this new clause, “there could be hundreds,” he said. “We’re in the early stages, but that’s our guess.”
The move away from the focus on the narrowness of the scores for the company’s work from time to time reduce the number of employees of large companies. In August 2022, Walmart began cutting about 200 jobs at the company as part of a restructuring in a more difficult business environment.
For its part, generative AI – which has only been on the public radar for a year, since OpenAI launched ChatGPT – is quickly becoming a technology that will affect all types of work on in almost every business sector, including retail. To that end, in August, Walmart launched an internal AI device called My Assistant for all of its campus employees. “From speeding up the writing process to being a creative partner or writing large documents, My Assistant has the ability to change the way our partners work and solve problems,” the company said in an announcement on LinkedIn.
To familiarize its employees with the chatbot, Walmart has started a training program that includes online training. “We’ve created a very safe playground where partners can log into My Assistant to ask questions and learn how to use the tips,” Stomski said. . “We’re starting there so we can be real business coaches when we start interacting with AI.”
Another key factor in Walmart’s shift to hiring is helping to diversify its workforce, Stomski said. “We’re removing unnecessary restrictions so we can access broader, more diverse resources,” he said. “One of these problems is the need for higher education. If we move to the idea as one need or another, we will open candidates to different groups that affect about the communities we serve.”
Colleen Ammerman, director of Competition, Gender and Equity at Harvard Business School, says that a smart management strategy like Walmart doesn’t try to push the target number. “It’s smart for companies to think about how to access the best talent and not leave illegal restrictions, even if it’s poor screening tools – do you four years old? – or many small problems, about how we see people. of different personalities,” he said.
Finally, according to Stomski, Walmart’s hiring reforms “will open up the possibility for many of our (organizational) partners to improve their careers and access paid jobs more, help them save money and live better.” It will affect everyone’s behavior. in a good way.”
This article was originally published in English by Bob Woods for our sister network CNBC.com. For more information from CNBC go here.