Last month, Amazon announced it will be investing US$700m to retrain 100,000 of its employees – equivalent to one third of its US workforce – in new technologies as part of its Upskilling 2025 strategy. The employee training programmes offered by Amazon are aimed at helping employees gain skills to advance their positions and broaden ‘professional options for themselves’.
The news is an important reminder that the nature of work is changing, and tomorrow’s employees will need to be equipped with skills to meet its needs. Amazon’s move sends a clear message that the jobs of tomorrow will require at competency in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and maths. Its focus on an array of careers, from corporate offices and tech hubs to retail stores and transportation networks, also signals the blurring of technical and non-technical jobs, suggesting a shift in the nature of work for the entire workforce.
Amazon’s move to retrain its employees, is happening within the context of fear that new technology will replace human jobs. A recent study by Oxford Economics, found that robots are on track to displace almost one tenth (20 million) of the world’s manufacturing jobs by 2030. As technology advances, businesses need to think about the skills needed to thrive and invest in their workforce. The news from Amazon, demonstrates the early actions of a company that relies on its employees having complete competency in STEM. But no industry is entirely immune to the changing nature of work. The companies that will survive, are those that don’t leave upskilling too late and who choose to continually invest in their people. Corporates must take on more responsibility for their staff, viewing them both as their future workforce and key to the future of their business.