Amazon



Amazon’s cloud division has become one of its most important profit drivers, posting $11.6 billion in sales in the quarter that ended Sept. 30, up 29% from a year earlier. (Photo: Mike Scarcella/ALM)

Amazon is one company that has thrived during the pandemic. Now it is paying it forward by helping 29 million people worldwide retrain for cloud-computing jobs by 2025, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The company committed $700 million last year to reskilling 100,000 of its own workers in the United States. The new effort will build on existing programs and include new ones in partnership with nonprofits, schools and others.

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Amazon’s latest initiative is geared toward those who aren’t already employed at the company. The idea, it says, is to equip people with the education needed to work in cloud-computing for a number of employers seeking to fill high-tech positions. While some participants might find jobs at Amazon, it is more likely they would get hired at other companies, including many that use Amazon Web Services, the online retailer’s cloud division.

“We need our customers to have the right skills if they’re going to go through a digital transformation,” said Teresa Carlson, a vice president at Amazon Web Services. Amazon declined to disclose the cost of its new training programs, but improved industry education benefits the company in other ways. It has hired 275,000 full- and part-time employees in the United States since the start of the year.

“When you spend as much time as we do hiring people and getting the right people on board, it’s kind of frustrating when you bring them on and you’re having to spend another year or more getting their skills up to speed,” Carlson said. “We see it ourselves, so we put these programs into place. We hear it from our customers and our partners, and it’s the right thing to do.”

More-sophisticated cloud skills might be crucial to Amazon’s business. The company’s cloud division has become one of its most important profit drivers. It posted $11.6 billion in sales in the quarter that ended Sept. 30, up 29% from a year earlier.

Cloud computing, which was hot before the pandemic, has become even more central to many companies as they speed up their adoption of such digital tools. Amazon’s cloud rivals, including Microsoft Corp. and Google-parent Alphabet Inc., also have seen strong growth in the sector as users embrace their services.

Most of Amazon’s courses can be taken remotely, through Amazon itself or partners that focus on helping people find new careers. Those organizations are located in places ranging from Newark, N.J., to Missoula, Mont., and internationally from Nigeria to Australia.

The content varies widely. One two-day program prepares students to work as entry-level fiber-optic fusion-splicing technicians, an in-demand field that involves testing and installing the delicate cables made up of minuscule glass tubes that power cloud data centers. Another course, called Cloud Practitioner Essentials, covers the basics of the AWS cloud, while other training focuses on more advanced skills, such as machine learning.

The push could help millions of workers navigate career changes without incurring steep debt at a time when many find themselves out of work and burdened by student loans.

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