Amazon workers who are filling boxes in warehouses may be the industry’s next engineers.
The company announced Thursday that it’ll spend more than $700 million to coach 100,000 workers for higher-skilled jobs over the next six years.
These training programs can be offered to workers throughout all levels of the company, not simply those in warehouses. Participants can pick one of a number of programs, ranging from learning skills for other jobs at Amazon to earning certifications that could be used outside the company.
The move is just the latest in a series of efforts by large retailers to woo and retain workers in one of the tightest labor markets in history. For instance, Walmart last month announced a new program that will pay for college test preparation for its high school workforce.
Amazon will pay for employees to attend the company’s Machine Learning University or study software program development skills through its Amazon Technical Academy. Employees can also participate in apprenticeships and get Amazon Web Services cloud certification at a reduction.
Some benefits apply only to certain employees. Amazon is pledging to pay up to 95% of the price of tuition for fulfillment-center workers trying to earn a certificate or diploma in a area that’s in high demand.
Last year, Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 and rolled out extra health benefits for employees, like 20 weeks of paid parental leave. Although the company has offered training in the aforementioned fields for a while, Ardine Williams, Amazon’s vice president of workforce development, mentioned the company is investing more into these programs to make Amazon an much more attractive employer for present associates and other people looking for a job.