Tuesday, 15 October, 2019


Amazon commits $700 million to retrain workers in new skills

Inside an Amazon fulfillment center in Dupont Wash Inside an Amazon fulfillment center in Dupont Wash
Conrad Doyle | 11 July, 2019, 22:53

The menu of training options was based on a review of the company's jobs and analysis of hiring data from its USA workforce.

The Seattle-based e-commerce giant said that it would pay to train 100,000 employees to move into "highly skilled technical and non-technical roles" either across the company's corporate offices, warehouses, retail stores and transportation network or to pursue careers outside of the company. "Amazon is no exception", the company said in the announcement. However, the company has faced repeated criticism for the working conditions at its warehouses.

Arran Stewart, chief visionary officer of Job.com, praised Amazon's decision to heavily invest in employee training.

Lawmakers, including United States presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have also threatened to regulate the company.

The big picture: Amazon is making a financial commitment to prepare its US employees for a near future where everything in their workflow will be deeply disrupted by automation. The Upskilling program is another benefit the company can show it's offering - including $15 minimum wage and up to 20 weeks paid parental leave - to counter those claims.

For example, warehouse workers in fulfillment centers could be trained for technical roles in IT and nontechnical workers could be retrained as software engineers, even if they have limited technical background.

"While many of our employees want to build their careers here, for others it might be a stepping stone to different aspirations", said Beth Galetti, a senior vice president of human resources at Amazon.

Career Choice, a tuition program for fulfillment center workers, will be expanded, as will Amazon Apprenticeship, a classroom training and on-the-job apprenticeship at Amazon. After reviewing the company's jobs and hiring data from the US 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.

Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon's Worldwide Consumer business, told the Wall Street Journal in its coverage of the news this morning, "Technology is changing our society, and it's certainly changing work". "We are starting (the retraining programs) in the USA, but this is a long-term commitment and just the beginning", an Amazon spokesperson told PCMag.

Amazon will provide technical training to about one-third of its US workforce, both to address the need for more skilled workers and to better compete against rivals.

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