The combination of new technologies that need to be employed in the workplace as well as a tight labor market in which newly-skilled employees are difficult to find, has left corporate America with only one valid option for better-trained workers: retrain the current workforce and upgrade those already on the payroll to the skills needed.

There was a time in the history of the American corporation when this kind of upgrading was routinely done.  However, with the rapid technological developments over the past decade, it became easier and quicker to hire newly-trained workers than to retrain those already on the payroll.  Now, however, things have changed and employers such as AT&T, Walmart, JP Morgan Chase and others find it necessary to initiate training upgrades in-house.  Amazon, while the latest to announce its intent to retrain, is also the company that is committing the largest amount – $700 million – to the effort that is expected to retrain one-third of the Amazon workforce.  The retraining funding breaks down to about $7,000 per worker, or $1,200 a year through 2025.  The average among all corporations, to date, has been $500 per worker.  Amazon’s plans are to expand existing training programs and roll out new ones in an effort to allow employees to move into more advanced jobs in the company, or to find new careers outside.  The training is voluntary and won’t obligate employees to remain at Amazon.  Hourly employees at fulfillment centers can retrain for IT support roles, such as managing the machines that operate throughout the center; and nontechnical corporate workers can take advantage of the chance to retrain as software engineers without going back to college (ref WSJ).  Jeff Wilke, an executive at Amazon, has said that, “Technology is changing our society and it’s certainly changing work.”  According to Wilke, Amazon intends to allow its workers to prepare for “the opportunities of the future.”  Wilke says that he sees a growing number of Amazon’s jobs requiring a component of technical skills in the future.

All The Moving Parts:  Well-trained employees are an essential element of the successful organization.

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