Amazon has mad upskills
A growing number of retailers have identified employee training and development as a core organizational performance need. Many companies believe giving workers the educational tools they need to grow leads to personal fulfillment, and that the organization is rewarded many times over in making this possible.
Amazon.com’s plan for providing non-technical employees with the skills they need to move into software engineering roles is one of the best examples of this philosophy in practice.
Workers, only requiring a high school diploma or GED, accepted into the Amazon Technical Academy can move into an entry level software engineer job after nine months in the full-time program. The company claims that it has placed 98 percent of graduates from the academy into internal software engineering positions with salary and compensation packages an average of 93 percent higher than what they were receiving prior to adding new skills. Roughly 40 percent of those going through the program are hourly workers.
Amazonians, as the retail and technology giant refers to its employees, pay nothing for tuition and receive a stipend for living costs and a subsidy to maintain health benefits while in the program.
Ashley Rajagopal, a veteran of Amazon’s Consumer business, leads the program.
“We have intentionally evolved our curriculum and teaching approach to be accessible to participants who didn’t have the opportunity, either because of background or financial limitations, to pursue a college degree in software engineering,” Ms. Rajagopal said in a company blog post.
Ms. Rajagopal said Amazon’s training program is unlike what is done in universities or technical training schools.
“We don’t teach in abstract, mathematical concepts that are regularly used in a traditional computer science university setting,” she said. “Instead, we relate the concept to real life examples like cleaning your room, growing a flower or opening a Russian nesting doll that many people are familiar with.”
Ms. Rajagopal said her job is about paying it forward.
“Someone saw something in me when I came to work at Amazon 11 years ago,” she said. “I had managers invest in me. I feel like it’s really important for me to share that with other people and to pass that along. I believe education is the key to giving people a vision and path to reach their potential and taking control of their career progression.”
- Amazon helps employees become software engineers in 9 months – Amazon.com
- Our Upskilling Commitments – Amazon.com
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think retailers, by and large, are making adequate investments in training and developing the skills of employees? How important is the potential for career advancement either inside or outside of the employing company to the success of these types of programs?