Amazon.com Inc. plans to spend $700 million to retrain a third of its U.S. workforce, as technology threatens to upend the way many of its employees do their jobs.
The company announced this morning that it will retrain 100,000 workers by 2025 by expanding existing training programs and rolling out new ones meant to help its employees move into more advanced jobs inside the company or find new careers outside of it, The Wall Street Journal reports. The training is voluntary, and most of the programs are free to employees, the company says.
“Technology is changing our society, and it’s certainly changing work,” says Jeff Wilke, chief executive of Amazon’s world-wide consumer business, adding that the initiative is meant to help workers “be prepared for the opportunities of the future.”
For example, hourly workers in fulfillment centers can retrain for IT support roles, such as managing the machines that operate throughout the facilities. Meanwhile, nontechnical corporate workers can spend several years retraining as software engineers without going back to college.
Amazon’s effort to upgrade the skills of its workforce is among the biggest corporate retraining initiatives announced, and breaks down to roughly $7,000 per worker.
At a time of historically low unemployment, coupled with rapid digital transformation that requires high-tech job skills, more U.S. companies want to help existing employees transition to new roles. A challenge facing many corporate retraining efforts is that employers often struggle to predict which skills they will need even a few years in advance.
Amazon, like many corporations, has struggled to find an adequate number of technical employees, and the company is confident that more of its jobs will include a technical component in the future, Wilke says. The company has more than 20,000 open jobs in the U.S., more than half of them in Seattle. Read the full story.