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Walmart has a new way to turn college grads into store managers

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(CNN) — Walmart is creating a new program to fast-track recent college graduates into store manager positions — salaried roles that pay upwards of $200,000 a year.

Facing a competitive labor market, Walmart is piloting a “College2Career” training program open to recent college graduates and current students set to graduate that aims to move them to store bosses within two years, the company announced Sunday.

Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States with more than 1.5 million workers, typically promotes store leaders from within its hourly ranks. Around 75% of Walmart’s salaried store, club and supply chain management started at the company in hourly positions.

But the retailer is looking to broaden its pool of store manager candidates amid a tight job market.

Walmart hopes its new program, which will provide classroom training, hands-on experience and mentoring, will prove appealing to recruits.

At the end of the program, Walmart will offer “top performers” a newly created store management position — emerging coach — with starting pay of $65,000 a year.

“We see the emerging coach role as an additional pipeline to develop high-potential talent into future store managers,” Walmart said in its announcement.

The initiative is available to current Walmart workers, the company said. About 1,000 people will be accepted in the program.

Walmart and rival retailers have launched several initiatives to recruit candidates in recent months, including pay hikes and expanded benefits.

Walmart said last month that it was raising pay for long-haul truck drivers and has offered to cover 100% of college tuition for its workforce.

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