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Attracting drivers to the industry: Walmart launches truck driver training program

Male vehicle instructor holds cones in hands for the examination, driving school concept. lesson for novice car drivers, test for beginner

Walmart has introduced a new program in its Smyrna, Dela., and Dallas, Texas, fulfillment centers that offers distribution center employees the opportunity to obtain their commercial driver’s license and significantly boost their earnings. The program is a 12-week course taught by Walmart truck drivers and will cover the $4,000 cost of a CDL.

 

The move is geared to ensure that Walmart stays as one of the top retailers in the nation and will help to “hire aggressively to meet all-time high demand from customers,” according to a Walmart statement. Walmart has 2.2 million employees nationwide, including 12,000 truck drivers.

 

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), Walmart’s initiative mirrors an industry-wide effort to attract and retain drivers. “Fleets must increase pay, which is now happening at extraordinary levels,” the ATA said on its website. “We’re witnessing unprecedented pay increases across the industry, with weekly driver earnings surging at a rate more than 5x their historical average—up more than 25% for long-haul, truckload drivers since the beginning of 2019. Fleets are also offering sizable, five-figure sign-on bonuses and full benefits as they all compete for the same limited pool of drivers.”

 

Recently, Walmart announced a pay raise for truck drivers from $88,000 to a range of $95,000 to $110,000, with the potential to go even higher, depending on miles driven, tenure and location.

 

In 2021, Walmart hired nearly 4,500 truck drivers, more than any other year in the company’s history, according to company representatives. To entice employees and others to choose truck driving careers, Walmart offers company benefits on day one, including as much as 21 days of paid leave in the first year, medical benefits, 401(k) with a 6% company match, an associate stock purchase plan and access to a free college degree, with Walmart paying 100% of the cost of tuition and books through its Live Better U program.