Amazon Pledges to “Upskill” Employees Instead of Laying Them Off

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Amazon has pledged to “upskill” up to one-third of its workforce in their Upskilling 2025 program, committing $700 million to training up to 100,000 of its employees so as to not make them redundant as AI and other technology replaces them, instead creating a tech-proficient workforce.

According to Amazon’s press release on the upskill plan, the upskilling plan will provide programs that “will help Amazonians from all backgrounds access training to move into highly skilled technical and non-technical roles across the company’s corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centers, retail stores, and transportation network, or pursue career paths outside of Amazon.”

That last, “or pursue career paths outside of Amazon” is interesting, we think, although we’re not exactly sure what to read into it (or out of it).

The Amazon upskill initiative is called Amazon Upskilling 2025, highlighting that Amazon has pledged to have one-third of its workforce upskilled by the year 2015.

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Says Beth Galetti, Senior Vice President of HR at Amazon, “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. With this pledge, we’re committing to support 100,000 Amazonians in getting the skills to make the next step in their careers.”

The various Amazon 2025 upskilling programs include:

  • Amazon Technical Academy, which equips non-technical Amazon employees with the essential skills to transition into, and thrive in, software engineering careers
  • Associate2Tech, which trains fulfillment center associates to move into technical roles regardless of their previous IT experience
  • Machine Learning University, offering employees with technical backgrounds the opportunity to access machine learning skills via an on-site training program
  • AmazonCareer Choice, a pre-paid tuition program designed to train fulfillment center associates in high-demand occupations of their choice
  • Amazon Apprenticeship, a Department of Labor certified program that offers paid intensive classroom training and on-the-job apprenticeships with Amazon
  • AWS Training and Certification,which provide employees with courses to build practical AWS Cloud knowledge that is essential to operating in a technical field

Interestingly, it is also Amazon employees who are creating those upskilling programs.

Amazon is also still offering the Amazon Career Choice tuition assistance program for its employees.

While the term ‘upskilling’ may seem new, it’s not a new concept. In fact, IBM was employing it as many as 50 years ago, although, says IBM Senior VP Charles Masters in an interview with Business Report, it only happened maybe “once or twice in a lifetime 50 years ago”, adding that “but now it’s once or twice a year.”

However, as technology advances at breakneck speed, including in the marketing and manufacturing sectors, employers need employees who can stay ahead of – or at least keep up with – the changes.

You can read more about Amazon’s Upskilling 2025 program here.


What are your thoughts on the concept of upskilling?

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