Ivanka Trump Tours Walmart Academy in Mesquite

Walmart Academies teach supervisors how to handle difficult situations

Behind the pictures and applause, Ivanka Trump got down to business in Mesquite Friday, learning about what Walmart Academy offers its employees.

The management training program started in Carrollton in 2016. It's now spread to nearly 200 stores across the country. The Mesquite location, off U.S Highway 80, is one of the six largest in the U.S.

Walmart Academy teaches supervisors how to handle things like disasters, the holiday shopping rush, eliminating bias and identifying issues using virtual reality.

Walmart plans to roll out VR to all of its locations by the end of the year. President Donald Trump's daughter, whose title is special assistant to the president, took part in a demonstration to see the technology firsthand.

With the academies attached to the stores, employees are able to put their new skills to work right away -- from using store mobile apps, to helping customers fulfill pickup orders.

Senior director of Walmart Academies, Andy Trainor, said employees take those new skillsets back to their home store.

"We're seeing them, when they come back from the academy, they have the confidence to do their jobs much more efficiently and better than they did prior to the training,” Trainor said.

Several employees shared personal stories with Trump of how they overcame adversity and achieved success, thanks to the program.

"It has changed my world, upside down. My family if they could be here today, they would tell you how proud they are," said Alicia Witt, a Walmart co-manager in Forney.

So far, 370,000 employees have gone through academy training. Walmart has pledged to train 1 million more over the next five years.

"The belief in the company that we do care and continue to help them has grown tremendously since we started," Trainor said.

Walmart also teamed up with Guild Education to help employees earn online degrees. The retailer has made additional improvements recently, including expanded parental leave, adoption benefits and increasing the starting wage to $11 per hour.

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