The tech giant will offer voluntary programs in its corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centres, transportation networks and retail stores. For example, one program teaches non-technical employees to code; another offers tuition for fulfillment-centre workers to study an occupation of their choice, even if it isn’t relevant to the company. (Wall Street Journal)
Talking point: The initiative is meant to help address the skills gap at Amazon, as increased automation renders some jobs—like those in its warehouses—redundant. At the same time, the company has a dearth of qualified workers to fill more technical roles, like software development, with 200,000 job openings in the U.S. alone. It’s an issue the e-retailer’s competitors have also started addressing: IBM offers employees master’s programs in artificial intelligence, and Walmart has launched a program that lets employees take classes in computer science, business and supply-chain management at one of six U.S. universities. The announcement lands a few days before Amazon Prime Day, the company’s biggest sales event. Amazon’s Minnesota fulfillment-centre workers are planning to strike that day over what they allege are poor wages and working conditions. The retraining commitment—worth about US$7,000 per employee—could temper some of those grievances.