Amazon plans to spend $700M to retrain a third of its workforce for data, analytics roles

aerial photo of Amazon's headquarters
Amazon is focused on creating pathways to careers in areas such as healthcare, machine learning, manufacturing, robotics, computer science and cloud computing. (Amazon)

To keep up with the demand for data scientists and software developers within its own ranks as well as in other industries, Amazon pledged Thursday to spend more than $700 million to upskill 100,000 of its employees, about a third of its U.S. workforce.

The workforce training programs will provide 1 in 3 people across Amazon's corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centers, retail stores and transportation networks with access to training programs that will help them move into more highly skilled roles within Amazon, the company said in a press release.

The investment is not intended to only benefit Amazon, company officials said.

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RELATED: A shortage of data scientists could be holding back advances in healthcare

Through its Upskilling 2025 pledge, Amazon is focused on creating pathways to careers in areas that will continue growing in years to come, including healthcare, machine learning, manufacturing, robotics, computer science and cloud computing, the company said.

"While many of our employees want to build their careers here, for others it might be a stepping stone to different aspirations. We think it’s important to invest in our employees and to help them gain new skills and create more professional options for themselves. With this pledge, we’re committing to support 100,000 Amazonians in getting the skills to make the next step in their careers," Beth Galetti, Amazon's senior vice president for human resources, said in a press release.

Nearly half of the global business landscape, including the healthcare industry, is currently facing a data analytics skills gap, according to a survey (PDF) from Teradata. 

There is a gross undersupply of data scientists in the healthcare industry today, according to Booz Allen Hamilton Chief Medical Officer Kevin Vigilante, M.D., in an op-ed published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

“There’s a human capital issue that will take at least a decade to address as we migrate to more advanced methods,” he said.

RELATED: Industry Voices—3 strategies for data analytics experts to prepare for future challenges and opportunities

Healthcare leaders are dealing with an ever-increasing volume of data. Yet the healthcare industry’s current inability to tap into the enormous set of data it currently has could be holding back innumerable potential scientific advances, according to Booz Allen Hamilton executives in the op-ed.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association examined the demand for data scientists in healthcare and found during a three-month period there were nearly 200 healthcare-specific data science job openings on just one popular employment site.

"Data scientist roles at health systems and insurance companies are evolving as organizations seek to grow the depth of their operational analytics work," the study said. 

Based on a review of its workforce and analysis of U.S. hiring, Amazon’s fastest-growing highly skilled jobs over the last five years include data mapping specialists, data scientists, solutions architects, security engineers and business analysts.

RELATED: University of San Diego brings data analytics to its nursing program

The tech giant's upskilling programs include Amazon Technical Academy, which equips non-technical Amazon employees with the essential skills to transition into software engineering careers; Associate2Tech, which trains fulfillment center associates to move into technical roles regardless of their previous IT experience; and Machine Learning University, offering employees with technical backgrounds the opportunity to access machine learning skills via an on-site training program.

The company also offers AWS Training and Certification to provide employees with courses to build practical AWS Cloud knowledge to operate in a technical field.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now more job openings, at 7.4 million, than there are unemployed Americans, a number which now stands at 6 million. In looking at job growth over the next decade, the bureau anticipates some of the fastest-growing job areas are increasingly in more skilled areas, including medical assistants, statisticians, software developers and nurse practitioners.

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