Amazon to spend $700M on employee training; ripple effects expected in Western Washington

VIDEO: Amazon investing $700 Million to improve skills of its workers

Amazon announced a $700 million plan to improve the skills of its workers and KIRO 7 found out it could have ripple effects for other jobs in Western Washington.

The 6-year plan is to provide upskill training for 100,000 employees equaling one in three Amazon workers in the U.S.“It absolutely will positively impact employees here in Western Washington,” Amazon VP of People Operations Ardine Williams told KIRO 7.

It's like an in-house grad school, with programs like machine learning university for onsite training and amazon technical academy for software engineer roles. Warehouse workers can do the career choice program, which pays 95 percent of tuition for in-demand jobs in the local community.

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Williams told KIRO 7 they hope the employees advance within Amazon after the training, but they realize the next jobs might be outside of Amazon.

“In many cases they are,” she said.  “In a perfect world you attract great employees, they get experience, you add skills and it exposes new opportunities for them.”

An executive told CBS This Morning the company will add thousands of robots to its workforce and needs to employees to operate them in a variety of ways.

While many think of robots as replacing jobs done by humans, Amazon says it needs qualified people more than ever to work with those robots, which perform less skilled work and repetitive tasks.

The company says the new robots mean new career paths in roles involving robotics and software.

Amazon has 20,000 job openings currently worldwide and 10,000 of those openings are in the Seattle area.

And it’s not just Amazon looking to improve its own workforce.  The number of employers upskilling their workforce will climb from 54 percent in 2018 to 84 percent in 2020, according to a Manpower Group Study.