Amazon plans to retrain one-third of US employees as automation grows

It will spend $700 million on "upskilling" programs.

Amazon announced today that is is planning on retraining one-third of its workforce to help ease the effects of automation. The e-commerce giant is pledging $700 million that will go to providing "upskill" training designed to move people in positions vulnerable to automation into new jobs across the company. As many as 100,000 employees are expected to undergo the retraining process by 2025.

Amazon's "upskilling" plans includes six programs, which will be available to employees at any Amazon location. Amazon Technical Academy will teach non-technical employees the skills needed to transition into software engineering roles. Associate2Tech is designed for fulfillment center workers to move to a variety of IT roles. Machine Learning University will give employees with some technical background the ability to add machine learning skills. Amazon Career Choice offers pre-paid tuition programs to fullfilment center associates so they can train for "high-demand" jobs of their choosing. Amazon Apprenticeship provides paid classroom training and on-the-job apprenticeships within Amazon. Finally, AWS Training and Certification lets employees train for technical careers utilizing the AWS Cloud.

Amazon hasn't been shy about introducing automation throughout its supply chain. Last year, the company began building a "picker" robot that will be able to collect items around fulfillment centers for shipments. Amazon has also toyed with the idea of introducing boxing robots that could displace as many as 1,300 workers. Amazon projects that robots won't start entirely replacing human workers for at least a decade, but even shifts to partial automation will leave some people out in the cold. The new training programs should help to combat that.