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VR Training, Training Funds and Sexual Harassment Training

The Walmart located in Leicester Massachusetts has taken major steps in using virtual-reality to train their employees. The assistant store manager, Scott M. Pelletier, received virtual-reality training in Walmart Academy on the deli, bakery, and produce departments. In addition he received virtual-reality training to prepare him for Black Friday, which he claimed was very similar to the real thing. Pelletier said that his training was an exact replication of what it would look like and was a good learning foundation. 

According to the company spokesman, Walmart recently invested $2.7 billion over two years in education, training and high wages for associates. The Walmart Academy training program, specifically, is designed to teach leadership skills, advanced retail skills and how to run individual store departs for department managers, assistant managers and front-line hourly supervisors. It is aimed at helping associates meet the changing needs of customers and be successful in their careers. 

The academy manager for the Leicester training center, John J. Ethier, said that he thinks "it is a great type of technology, to put somebody in a situation they are not always in and how to prepare to act on what to do in that situation. It is new technology out there that gives us the benefits of actually being somewhere and not being there.” (Source:

What does this mean for professional development?

Walmart is taking the lead on utilizing virtual-reality technologies for their training and professional development needs. By setting an example of how beneficial these new technologies can be in learning customer service skills, retail skills and preparing for specific situations such as Black Friday, many companies will be lining up behind them to start utilizing this state of the art technology. Employees in retail should expect to see a rise in virtual-technology training methods in the near future. 

Disagreements over Job Training Funds in Maine

Disagreements arose last week between state officials and local economic development directors over changes to state policies and the governor's refusal to distribute more than $8 million in federal job training funds. The funds are meant to go to local workforce boards around Maine, which work with service providers to train tens of thousands of people looking for a job. At this point, less than 40% of the funds to local boards go to tuition and job training. 

At a meeting last Friday, a policy change was suggested by state officials for the local boards to increase the share of money that goes to job training to 60%. According to the Department of Labor Commissioner, John Butera, the change is necessary to get more workers into jobs.

Currently no other state in the country is putting such a high percentage of federal funds toward job training. By the end of the meeting, the board agreed that they would gradually add in the new budget requirements over the next few years, although it is still not established what is going to happen with the more than $8 million in federal job training funds that were withheld by the Governor this year. (Source: Bangor Daily News)

What does this mean for professional development?

Federal job training funds in the state of Maine plays a large role in helping thousands of people get the training they need to get a job. If the governor doesn't release the $8 million in funding that he has withheld and the new policy change to increase the money that goes to job training in Maine doesn't go through, then the job training services that are supposed to go to struggling young adults, laid-off workers and low-income adults will be greatly diminished. 

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Studies on Sexual Harassment Training 

Research done by psychologists Julie Woodzicka and Marianne LaFrance found that how people think they would react to sexual harassment in the workplace doesn't line up with reality. Woodzicka and LaFrance had a group of women imagine that they were asked three inappropriate questions during a job interview and think about how they would respond. A different group of women were asked these actual questions during what they thought was a real in-person interview for a research position. 

What they found was that of 68% of the 197 women who imagined their responses said they would refuse to answer as least one of the inappropriate questions, but when the real interview was conducted not one woman refused to answer one of the questions. Also instead of feeling angry about the interview, as most said that they thought they would, a majority felt fear after it. 

What does this mean for professional development?

This study revealed reasons for why women do not come forward after being sexually harassed in a work environment. These findings demonstrated how important  sexual harassment training is for preparing employers for what to do if an incident occurs.  Although many workers think that they know how they will act if sexually harassed in the workplace, studies show that their expectations are different than reality. With the continuing rise in sexual misconduct in the workplace, sexual harassment training is getting more import and critical in every environment. (Source: The Washington Post)

Last updated: 25 Feb 2020

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