Amazon said it’s investing $700 million over a six-year period to “upskill” 100,000 employees, or about a third of its U.S. workforce.
The initiative is part of what the company is calling its “Upskilling 2025” pledge and will entail a suite of new programs designed to help its current workers transition into more — or different — technical roles. This will include employees from its fulfillment centers, transportation network, retail stores, and corporate hubs.
There are six programs in total, including the Machine Learning University, which will target existing technically minded workers with training for machine learning roles; the Amazon Technical Academy, which will train people to move into software engineering roles; and Associate2Tech, which is aimed at guiding fulfillment center workers into “technical roles,” regardless of their previous experience.
“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,” said Beth Galetti, senior VP for HR at Amazon. “For us, creating these opportunities is just the beginning. While many of our employees want to build their careers here, for others it might be a stepping stone to different aspirations. We think it’s important to invest in our employees and to help them gain new skills and create more professional options for themselves.”
This latest announcement comes after U.S. politicians have leveled a wave of criticism at Amazon over its tax payments and employee pay rates. Unsurprisingly, Amazon has come out guns a-blazin’ with very public rebuttals. At the same time, Amazon warehouse workers are currently planning a Prime Day protest over job security and unsafe working conditions.
However, as one the largest employers in the U.S., Amazon has been pushing to improve its public perception in recent times, having raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour. It also recently announced a new program whereby it will pay employees to quit their jobs and start their own Amazon package delivery business.
Other new training programs will include AmazonCareer Choice, which aims to train fulfillment center workers in other “high-demand occupations;” Amazon Apprenticeship, which will offer “paid intensive classroom training” and apprenticeships at the company, certified by the Department of Labor; and AWS Training and Certification, which is designed to give employees a better practical knowledge of AWS Cloud.