Amazon to Retrain a Third of U.S. Workers as Automation Advances

Amazon has increasingly turned to robots and automation technology to fetch products from the shelves of its warehouses to ship to customers. Now the company says it needs to help its workers adapt to the rapid change.

The e-commerce giant on Thursday said it planned to spend $700 million to retrain a third of its workers in the United States, an acknowledgment that advances in automation technology will handle many tasks now done by people.

Amazon said the program amounts to one of the world’s largest employee retraining efforts. It will apply across the company, from corporate employees to warehouse workers. The company said about 100,000 workers would be retrained by 2025.

Even as Amazon is racing to fill thousands of high-skill jobs at its Seattle headquarters and elsewhere, the company is relying on automation technology that could threaten jobs performed by lower-skilled workers. Automation already plays a central role in the company’s warehouses, with workers carrying devices that dictate which direction to walk to pick up a package from a shelf.

Amazon said the retraining program would allow warehouse workers to learn high-tech skills that could lead to new jobs within Amazon or at other companies. Software engineering classes will be available for corporate employees without technical backgrounds.

Amazon said its fastest-growing skilled jobs over the past five years include data mapping specialists, data scientists, security engineers and logistics coordinators.