SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon will provide technical training to about one-third of its U.S. workforce, both to address the need for more skilled workers and to better compete against rivals.
Amazon and other companies have struggled to find technically qualified U.S. employees. It said Thursday that it will begin providing its workers with the skills to transition into software engineering positions and other technical roles.
More advanced training for workers hired to work in Amazon warehouses is occurring in an increasingly competitive environment with the unemployment rate hovering below 4%.
Major retailers like Walmart and Target have been raising pay and boosting training to lure more quality employees and to make the experience in stores less stressful.
While customers are less likely to come face to face with an Amazon worker, the company can improve the experience of shopping online with a staff that is more technically savvy.
Amazon.com Inc. has also faced criticism from labor groups and some politicians, including presidential candidates, over what they see as substandard working conditions. Providing an avenue for low-skilled workers to advance within the company, or outside of it, could reshape the narrative for Amazon.
"While many of our employees want to build their careers here, for others it might be a stepping stone to different aspirations," said Beth Galetti, a senior vice president of human resources at Amazon. "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 Seattle company said Thursday that its U.S. workforce will hit 300,000 this year. It has more than 630,000 employees worldwide.
Amazon, using its own employment data, said its fastest growing skilled job positions over the last five years include data mapping, data science, security engineering and business analysis. There is also strong demand for workers skilled in logistics and transportation.