Amazon partners with nonprofit to upskill workers for tech jobs

By | 28th June, 2020

  • Hourly associates at Amazon fulfillment centers in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Baltimore areas who do not have college degrees are now eligible to receive training for IT careers. Merit America, a nonprofit that helps workers develop desirable skills leading to highly sought-after technology jobs, announced a partnership with Amazon’s Career Choice initiative June 23. The training can not only “close critical near-term skill gaps, but also create opportunities for their employees in the long term,” Rebecca Taber, founder and co-CEO of Merit America, said in a statement.
  • The program is designed to overcome barriers often faced by middle-skill workers, according to the organization. Through job-focused online learning, career coaching and mentorship, participants will be trained for in-demand, competitive wage tech positions in areas including IT support and Java programming.
  • Merit America works with employers to create pathways to upwardly mobile careers for Americans without college degrees. “By delivering training in high-demand career paths, we are proud to give eligible employees the tools they need to make a move and pursue their career aspirations beyond Amazon,” Tammy Thieman, global program lead for Amazon Career Choice, said in a statement.

Providing training is essential to close skill gaps among American workers, according to Taber. Many other workforce experts have expressed similar views, even before the pandemic.

As demand for supplies increased during the pandemic, Amazon hired 100,000 full- and part-time workers in its delivery network and fulfillment centers in April. An analysis by the National Skills Coalition (NSC) released April 21, based on earlier data, found that American workers in essential industries will require upskilling to meet the needs of digital disruption.

For example, more than 1 in 3 manufacturing workers (35%) have limited or no digital skills, according to the NSC. And, 50% of construction, storage sector and transportation have limited or no digital skills. An Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development adult skills survey, presented during an NSC panel discussion Feb. 11 in Washington, D.C., found that millions of workers in the U.S. have very limited or no digital skills.

“The mass displacement of workers that has resulted from the pandemic represents an unprecedented opportunity — and responsibility — to reimagine training and hiring and ensure that the most vulnerable Americans don’t get left behind,” Taber said.

Employers should provide workers with opportunities to upskill and reskill during the pandemic, according to Jeanne Schad, talent solutions and strategy practice leader at Randstad RiseSmart. During a April 23 Randstad webinar on employer branding, Schad said in order to tap into skills in an environment “where ideas can emerge,” many companies are encouraging an informal entrepreneurial type of learning where employees can contribute in areas that interest them.