‘There is a greater need for technical skills in the workplace than ever before. Amazon is no exception,’ the company said.
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This story originally appeared on PCMag
With automation looming, Amazon is investing $700 million to retrain 100,000 U.S.-based workers for new jobs.
The goal is to shift one-third of Amazon’s workforce by 2025 into in-demand jobs at the company that focus on software engineering, data sciences, robotics, and coordinating logistics to ship products. Still, the company says its free retraining programs will help employees get “highly skilled roles within or outside of Amazon.”
“The American workforce is changing. There is a greater need for technical skills in the workplace than ever before. Amazon is no exception,” the company said in the announcement.
The investment comes as the e-commerce giant is increasingly relying on robots to help fulfill orders, including experimenting with delivery drones. The coming automation is poised to take jobs away from Amazon warehouse workers, while also reducing the company’s costs.
In the meantime, Amazon still relies on thousands of employees to quickly package orders and ship them out. However, the company has faced repeated criticism for the working conditions at its warehouses. Employees at one warehouse in Minnesota plan to strike on July 15 — during Amazon Prime Day — to demand the e-commerce giant ease productivity quotas they claim make their jobs unsafe.
Lawmakers, including U.S. presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have also threatened to regulate the company.
However, Amazon has said it’s committed to supporting its employees. Last October, it raised the minimum wage for company workers to $15 per hour, although it also phased out an incentive pay component. “Through our continued investment in local communities in more than 40 states across the country, we have created tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S. in the past year alone,” Amazon SVP Beth Galetti said in a statement.
Today’s $700 million investment might also act as recruitment tool for the company. The retraining opportunities will apply to workers across Amazon’s corporate offices, fulfillment centers, retail center and transportation networks. The programs cover computer programming, AI-based machine learning skills, and how to operate Amazon’s AWS cloud service.
“Amazon’s fastest growing highly skilled jobs over the last five years are data mapping specialist (832 percent growth), data scientist (505 percent), solutions architect (454 percent), security engineer (229 percent) and business analyst (160 percent),” the company said.
Another retraining program will help company workers learn the necessary skills for a high-demand occupation of their choice. Workers need to only pay 5 percent of the tuition costs. According to Amazon’s website, the retraining programs will largely be conducted virtually and via on-site classrooms.
In total, Amazon employs 630,000 workers globally. “We are starting (the retraining programs) in the U.S., but this is a long-term commitment and just the beginning,” an Amazon spokesperson told PCMag.