Walmart announces pay hike to in fight against worker shortage

The brand is also launching training programs to upskill current employees

Walmart announces pay hike to in fight against worker shortage

Walmart on Thursday unveiled a pay bump and a training programme dedicated to its truck drivers amid a massive shortage on the sector reported nationwide.

The company, known as the largest United States-based private employer, announced a salary hike to its approximately 12,000 drivers.

"We're proud to announce pay raises to ensure Walmart remains one of the best companies in the world to drive for," said the company in its announcement. "The average salary for a long-haul driver is $56,491 a year. Walmart's starting wage can nearly double that," it also said in one of its infographics.

Without mentioning the specific amount for the increase, the company said it will help its drivers earn up to $110,000 in their first year with the company.

"That's just a start – drivers who have been with Walmart longer can earn even more, based on factors like tenure and location," said Walmart.

On top of that, the company said it also launched a new Walmart Private Fleet Development Programme. The initiative ran for 12 weeks in Dallas, Texas, as well as Dover, Delaware, where supply chain associates earned their commercial driver's license (CDL) and became full-fledge Private Fleet Walmart drivers. They also earn the title as Certified Driver Trainers, where they are tasked of "training a new generation of associates" after completing specialise training in the Walmart Academies.

They will work with trainees, teaching written material and overseeing the actual driving.

"At the end of the classroom portion of the training, associates graduate with their CDL through [Live Better U], months of real-world experience under trained instructors, and a dedicated mentor to help them smoothly transition into their new role," Walmart explained.

Read more: Walmart to reward frontliners with $390M in cash bonuses

Truck driver shortage

The pay hike and the training programme arrived amid reports of a truck driver shortage in the United States.

Last year, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) announced that the driver shortage has risen to 80,000 - an all-time high for the industry. It attributed the shortage to the increased demand for freight, pandemic-related challenges from early retirements, closed driving schools, among other pressures that pushed up demand.

If not addressed, the ATA said that the shortage could surpass 160,000 by 2030.

ATA chief economist Bob Costello said there are several approaches that can be taken to address the causes of the shortage - which includes encouraging minorities and women to join the male-dominated workforce.

"The industry is raising pay at five times the historic average, but this isn't just a pay issue. We have an aging workforce, a workforce that is overwhelmingly male and finding ways to address those issues is key to narrowing the shortage," said Costello in a statement.

"By finding ways to let younger people enter the industry like the Drive-SAFE Act, reaching out to women and minorities, will open this career path – one of the few with a path to a middle-class lifestyle that doesn't require a college degree – we can put a significant dent in the shortage."

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