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Amazon to Retrain a Third of U.S. Workers as Automation Advances – The New York Times

The company is hungry for skilled workers. In November, Amazon selected Northern Virginia as the site of a second headquarters as part of an expansion effort to fill open roles near strategic partners. Executives said that the company needed to look beyond Seattle, its longtime home, to fill its need for talent.

Ardine Williams, Amazon’s vice president of people operations, said the company had more than 20,000 open positions in the United States. She said the retraining initiative built on existing education programs at the company and 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, she said.

“When automation comes in, it changes the nature of work but there are still pieces of work that will be done by people,” Ms. Williams said in an interview. “You have the opportunity to up-skill that population so they can, for example, work with the robots.”

The company said its fastest-growing skilled jobs over the past five years include data mapping specialists, data scientists, security engineers and logistics coordinators. Amazon said its training effort isn’t a response to automation. Since it began using robots it has hired more than 300,000 people; the company now has more than 200,000 robots worldwide.

Amazon faces fierce criticism from politicians on the right and left, including President Trump and Democratic presidential candidates like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. They have held up the company as a symbol of tech industry excess, saying that Amazon avoids paying taxes, devalues workers and squashes smaller businesses. In Washington, the Federal Trade Commission has taken over antitrust oversight of the company.

This content was originally published here.

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