Learning & Development

What HR Can Learn from Amazon’s Massive Training Initiative

Historically low unemployment rates have proven to be a challenge for businesses on multiple, related fronts.


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For one, low unemployment simply means there are fewer people out there actively looking for jobs, making recruitment difficult. On top of that, even if employers have a large pool of applicants for jobs, finding someone with the right skills may be very difficult.

And, even if the right person is brought on board, retention can be challenging, as other companies are often offering competitive salaries and other incentives to attract the best staff.

Amazon Making Major Investment in Employee Upskilling

A massive new program launched by Amazon has the potential to address all three of those challenges. The tech giant recently announced plans to invest more than $700 million over the next 6 years to provide upskilling for 100,000 U.S. employees—roughly one-third of its U.S. workforce.

“Programs 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,” according to the release.

Development Opportunities Drive Employee Loyalty

How employees perceive their opportunities for growth and development within organizations is one of the key factors in determining overall employee engagement, and this engagement is key to productivity, morale, and retention.

In this sense, Amazon’s program could end up being a great tool to attract and retain employees across its organization. And even if it’s unable to find the staff with the perfect combination of skills for a given role, the company will have the infrastructure in place to upskill the staff it does have.

Another benefit of Amazon’s initiative to train staff from within is that its staff will already be familiar with the organization. When given the choice between two candidates with comparable job skills, most companies are likely to choose the individual who has worked with them for 5 years in different roles over one who is coming in from the outside.

The labor market is based on many macroeconomic factors and is outside the control of even the largest companies. But what companies can control is how they adapt to low unemployment rates. Amazon’s massive training initiative should give it a big advantage when it comes to finding, retaining, and training the talent it needs to stay competitive.

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