Amazon to spend US$700 million retraining a third of U.S. workers

Marco Green
July 11, 2019

It's meant to help a whole third of Amazon's current U.S. workforce of roughly 300,000 people transition into higher skilled and higher demand positions, including data mapping specialists, data scientists, business analysts and security engineers.

Inc. said it will spend $700 million to retrain about one-third of its USA workforce in skills needed to thrive in the new economy. After reviewing the company's jobs and hiring data from the USA workforce, Amazon said that fast-growing, highly skilled jobs over the last five years at the company include data-mapping specialist, data scientist, solutions architect and business analyst.

In a Seattle visit earlier this year, Andrew Yang, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, called on the tech giant to admit to the role of automation in job loss, something that he believes contributed to President Trump's victory in the 2016 election, particularly in swing states where manufacturing is central to the economy. By comparison, the company expects to spend $800 million in the current quarter as it shifts from two-day to one-day free Prime shipping. Associate2Tech is another new program that will help warehouse workers retrain into technical jobs, regardless of their previous IT experience. Amazon Technical Academy will teach non-technical employees the skills needed to transition into software engineering roles.

Amazon's "upskilling" plans includes six programs, which will be available to employees at any Amazon location. The initiative will help workers who already have a background in technology and coding gain skills in machine learning. Amazon Career Choice offers pre-paid tuition programs to fullfilment center associates so they can train for "high-demand" jobs of their choosing.

In the tightest labor market in a half-century, Amazon is competing with other companies to hire the best and brightest and could help sidestep that challenge with a renewed emphasis on training. Finally, AWS Training and Certification lets employees train for technical careers utilizing the AWS Cloud.

In a December post, the company said, "Since introducing robots in 2012, approximately 300,000 full-time jobs have been added globally, disproving the misconception that machines are replacing humans in the workforce".

This work is also happening at a time of historically low unemployment in the United States, forcing fast-growing companies like Amazon to figure out new ways to fill their most vital positions, in part by using the people they already employ. It has more than 630,000 employees worldwide.

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