Walmart Academy to offer job training in Chatham starting this fall


When its West Chatham store was among those closed by looting last summer, Walmart pledged not only to reopen, but to revitalize the area.

He plans to keep that promise with a Walmart Academy, which is slated to open at this West Chatham location later this year.

At the Academy, residents can take free professional training courses from the end of the year.

West Chatham Walmart had been closed more than five months after being badly damaged during civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd outside a Minneapolis convenience store over Memorial Day weekend. Without the store, hundreds of residents found themselves without a convenient place to shop.

Plans for the Academy were announced last year. Walmart vice president of learning Andy Trainor said classes at Chatham Walmart are expected to start in late fall.

“How could you go wrong with more training and education? Said Jennipher Adkins, Interim Executive Director of the Chatham Business Association. The business association was formed over 14 years ago to connect South Side businesses to each other and promote economic growth in the community.

For Adkins, one of the best aspects of the new Academy is the learning opportunities Walmart employees will receive as part of their professional development and everyday customers will have access to the same training.

“People can go there and learn the same skills,” she said. “I am delighted. I wish Walgreens and other people would open it. Because it is necessary.

To coordinate the Academy’s course offerings, Walmart enlisted the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, which uses money from the federal government as well as philanthropic groups to help employers and job seekers.

A construction worker takes photos of the site where the Walmart Academy is being built, in the parking lot of a Walmart in the community of Gresham. The store is located at 8331 S. Stewart Ave.
Tyler LaRiviere / Sun-Times

Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves said Walmart “has done its homework” in adapting the Academy to the Chatham community.

“They spoke to their other partners in the field, did their own research and made connections with community organizations, training providers and educational institutions,” said Norington-Reaves. “They really wanted to make sure that what they bring is complementary to the professional training available that is already in the region.

The partnership opened the Chatham Education and Workforce Center in January and offers free services to job seekers, including a manufacturing classroom that hosts classes such as blueprint reading, introduction to electrical circuits, and assisted design. by computer. The Academy’s offerings will not duplicate courses at the center of the workforce, Norington-Reaves said.

With the workforce center already operational and the upcoming opening of the Walmart Academy, Norington-Reaves says people will have even more chances to shape an economically strong future.

“What I’m hoping for is creating a bunch of different opportunities for people to explore and create better economic stability and prospects for the residents of the area.”

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