A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

World’s Largest Retailer Makes Changes Aimed at a Sustainable Workforce; Construction is Ahead of the Game

Walmart made waves recently with the announcement that the largest retailer in the world will boost pay for its employees and do more to create career paths within the company for those employees.

It seems the same discussion that construction executives have been having for years about how to create a sustainable workforce is now being hashed out in Walmart’s boardroom as well.

In an open letter, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the most immediate change will be raises for employees. Beyond that, he also said there will be chances for those workers to earn more based on their performance:

“For our current associates, we’ll start by raising our entry wage to at least $9 an hour in April, and, by February of next year, all current associates will earn at least $10 an hour. I’m also excited about an innovative program we’re launching for future associates that will allow you to join Walmart at $9 an hour or more next year, receive skills-based training for six months, and then be guaranteed at least $10 an hour upon successful completion of that program.

We’re also strengthening our department manager roles and will raise the starting wage for some of these positions to at least $13 an hour this summer and at least $15 an hour early next year. There will be no better place in retail to learn, grow, and build a career than Walmart.”

In the days since McMillon’s announcement, there has already been much debate about whether Walmart is doing enough to improve the lives of its workers with this initiative. There have also been reports that other low-wage industries will have to up their game because Walmart’s move changes the landscape.

We will leave that debate to others for now, but it is worth noting that the construction industry has been making huge strides in this area for years. In fact, wages for craft professionals have been rising steadily “with the average annual salary being more than $50,000, excluding overtime, per diem, bonuses or other benefits,” per our friends at NCCER.

If someone graduated high school but lacks a four-year degree and is considering a job in retail, they might want to instead take a look at a career in construction. The pay is simply much better for craft professionals. In fact, 15 craft professions examined in the NCCER survey saw wage increases in 2014.

“Professions earning more than $65,000 annually included electronic systems technicians and instrumentation technicians, which experienced a 14 percent increase from one year ago,” wrote Jennifer Wilkerson. “Boilermakers saw the most significant pay increase of all craft professions, up 16 percent from the previous year, followed by industrial maintenance mechanics, which saw a 15 percent increase in wages,” Wilkerson said. “Project managers and project supervisors topped the survey, earning more than $91,000 and $79,000, respectively.”

For more information on craft careers, check out the Construction Citizen Craft section.