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Businesses Education The Almighty Buck

Amazon Offers To Help Train Workers For Other Jobs 148

itwbennett writes "Amazon, which has come under attack for harsh warehouse working conditions, on Monday announced a new training benefit program for fulfillment center employees. The program will cover 95% of the cost of vocational training for jobs that Amazon determined to be in high demand and that pay relatively well, including aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technology, medical laboratory science and nursing." Two limitations of note: the maximum Amazon will contribute is $2,000/year for four years, and the employees need to have worked full-time for three consecutive years before they can take advantage of the program.
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Amazon Offers To Help Train Workers For Other Jobs

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  • Really, nothing stopping them from temp employees being tossed.

  • Yikes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @10:39PM (#40760005) Homepage

    Three full years in an warehouse? From the stories, that sounds like a death sentence.

    • 6 months would have been more fair; generous, even.

      3 years is absurd!

      • erm After 3 months you would consider paying your employees to learn skills needed to leave your service?

        At this point you wouldn't even have covered the cost of training let alone the cost of hiring new employees, and you're already ensuring that they will have a very short tenure with you.

        Reasonable and generous? Hell I've never heard of someone being paid to learn something unrelated to their current career by their current employer.

  • by theodp ( 442580 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @10:39PM (#40760009)

    An Amazon Education []: "Sucharita Mulpuru, the retail analyst for Forrester Research, was unimpressed. "It seemed self-congratulatory," she said in an interview. "Most companies, when they treat their workers well, that's just what they do. They don't say, "This is a reason you should do business with us.'"

  • by Lord_of_the_nerf ( 895604 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @11:05PM (#40760157)
    I imagine we'll see more contract, part-time employees and a rash of mysterious sackable offences from employees at 2 years and 364 days.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    They just staff the place with tons and tons of 'part-time' workers.

    Who were hired and told it was fulltime and then the hours slip down. And ohhh now you don't get full benefits and all that. Complain, ask for more hours? try to get more hours somehow? overtime? ohhhhhhh... you are so fired. For some minor complaint we documented months ago just in case of this.

    Didnt happen to me directly. But i saw it happen to alot of employees.

    Seems like a very corporate thing to do.
    Amazon knows they can p

    • And what make you feel awful is you knew what was going on, had it happen to you, and you said nothing. Because you really need this job...

  • [SARCASM]Where can I sign up[/SARCASM]
    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      [SARCASM]Where can I sign up[/SARCASM]

      Try this [] first, you may earn your extra $2000/year easier and earlier.

  • I work here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @11:15PM (#40760201)

    I was a temp, got converted, then hired into IT. Luckily there was a career path I was interested in... Due to what the company is and does, there just isn't much room for upward mobility or different career paths. They listened to the warehouse workers and gave them this option, which everyone loves. You put in your time and do your job, and after three years you can do what you want, and Amazon will pay for it.

  • So, in comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @11:19PM (#40760221)

    How well or poorly does NewEgg treat its warehouse workers? How about Overstock, or, or any of the other comparable online retailers?

    And really, while people here will complain about Amazon's treatment of its workers - if they have the lowest price, will you truly not buy from them because of it? Or will you just dodge the question and say " always beats them on price anyway, so I shop there"?

    • Two wrongs don't make a right,

      It is enough that any company being shitty to people is brought to light - even if the all aren't

      People buying by price is natural and is not the problem,

      Bezos who is in the headlines every few months contemplating doing rich man stunts can afford to take a LITTLE bit of his profits to treat his workers like decent people AND keep Amazon's prices competitive.

    • by SoupIsGood Food ( 1179 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @08:14AM (#40762763)

      How well or poorly does NewEgg treat its warehouse workers? How about Overstock, or, or any of the other comparable online retailers?

      Most warehouse work is well paid with reasonable working conditions. An honest day's pay for an honest day's work is something that's fallen out of fashion in the Great Recession - Amazon just took it to the next level, and leveraged its considerable IT expertise to wring every last dime out of people desperate for work. Once the recession fades, they are going to be in real trouble when there's competition for their workforce, their reputation as an employer is permanently stained. If it doesn't fade, the workers will unionize and take what the company refuses to give - fair wages and decent working conditions - and they'll be in even deeper trouble when they can no longer meet their obligations to Prime customers, as the local distribution center is on strike.

    • I don't shop at Walmart. I know lots of folks who won't. So there are a good number of folks who will avoid the bad players. Just a lot of others who will gladly deal with them if they can save a buck.

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @11:21PM (#40760239)

    "The program will cover 95% of the cost"
    "the maximum Amazon will contribute is $2,000/year for four years"

    2,000 $/yr * 4 yr = .95 X
    X = $8421

    So apparently you can become a trained aircraft mechanic for not much more than $8,000. Which is about 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of a common Bachelor's degree.

    Yeah, either the summary dropped a zero somewhere, aircraft mechanics are trained far less than you would think, or that 95% figure is *way* off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Not to encourage article reading, but they cover 95% of the cost of tuition, up to a maximum of $2000 dollars a year. So if your tuition is $1000 per year ( yea, yea, I know, ridiculously low) they would reimburse you $950. If your tuition is $10,000 a year, you get $2000. What Amazon is willing to pay has nothing to do with what it actually costs. All of which reinforces the fact that this is more of a PR move than a real, viable help with a serious education. There are a number of low-end jobs (yes,
    • by colinnwn ( 677715 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @11:36PM (#40760335)
      An Airframe & Powerplant training program that gets you eligible to take the FAA license test takes just under 2 years, and costs between $8,000 for community college programs, up to $30,000 for private schools.
    • Well, it isn't for Bachelor degrees. It specifically says it is for "technical and vocational certifications or associate's degrees"

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by superdana ( 1211758 )
      You can become a fully qualified, FAA-certified airframe or powerplant tech with a two-year degree from most community colleges, as long as the school is certified under FAR Part 147. I know people like to look down their noses at community colleges but these graduates really are qualified, and they have to pass the same FAA exams as every other mechanic.
  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @11:54PM (#40760423) Homepage Journal

    "You should buy stuff from us instead of WalMart because we treat our employees about 50% better than they do."

    separate matter: the folks here who are saying that working three years in a warehouse is a death sentence should get out and meet some real people, and try a bit harder to not be entitled pricks. One caveat: if you do meet a real warehouse worker (or dock worker, or other transportation/inventory logistics person), watch out for your teeth.

    Here's another angle: people who have the self-discipline to work in a tough job like that for at least three years without quitting and going home to live in their parents' basement stand a good chance at managing the demands of the work/school balance and will likely complete their coursework.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Not a warehouse, an AMAZON warehouse. Certainly warehousing is an honorable profession, but by some accounts working in an Amazon warehouse is a tough job made awful. I suspect one of those warehouse or dock workers would take a particularly dim view of Amazon's reported extensive use of temp agencies.

      • As the guy who said it originally, someone who worked in a warehouse, and someone who is surrounded by people that work in warehouses all day, that's precisely what I was getting at. It was about Amazon's working conditions, not a slight against anyone based on their job description.

        I'm not worried about anyone punching me in the mouth, or some random slashdotter getting all indignant about it, but it was worth clarifying. Thanks.

      • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

        It should be noted that one of the reasons why it's made awful (and one reason why the OP's "not a death sentence" may be wrong) is because Amazon likes to melt their employees by saving money. For many years they refused to air condition their warehouses, and refused to open garage doors to get some cross-breeze going citing "theft concerns". The result? 110 degrees Fahrenheit working environment, with 15 employees in one warehouse fainting of heatstroke in a single day.

        It was only after there was a big th

    • Great points, but it sounds like you are the one with the attitude problem.

      I've seen a number of news articles about the lousy working conditions at Amazon over the years so I tend to think that those conditions are real and really bad, not an exagerration of an overpriveleged bacon eating basement living libertarian IT worker.

      Given that it is likely conditions at Amazon are that bad, your anger should be directed at Amazon, not people commentators on Slashdot...........but that wouldn't be as easy.

  • Only $2k? (Score:4, Informative)

    by fragMasterFlash ( 989911 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @12:01AM (#40760455)
    US businesses can deduct up to $5250 per employee per year in schedule C federal income tax filings for tuition reimbursement. I guess Amazon would rather pay taxes than help employees realize their full potential.
  • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @12:06AM (#40760477)

    sorry, I had been a box monkey for most of my 20's, the work is mindless, dirty, hotter than hell during summer, cold as shit during winter and requires long hours of physical activity and standing on your feet all while getting meh pay...

    and yet whenever you see an amazon warehouse, they have padded mats to stand on, roller tracks, and fairly new equipment and the place is pretty organized and clean... I only had one warehouse job during that time and I considered it pretty cushy ... though a honest days work.

    harsh is trodding a 1,100 lb palette of car batteries 50 yards in 112 degree heat on a palette jack with a lumpy wheel that liked to drag, but I did it for 3 years to keep the rent paid while in school. I would love to see what is harsh is in a state of the art warehouse that's not ran by two hillbilly brothers and only 1 forklift in the building that's busted half the time and a leaky roof.

    yea get off my lawn, but at the same time quit being a pussy, there are a lot tougher jobs out there than box monkey #21.

    • You should have gone on welfare instead. You make more money, and don't have to work. It's nobody's fault but your own you have some sort of bizarre self-sacrificing gene that requires you to do stupid things and complain about it afterwards. There is no glory in work, you're just a tool of the capitalist bankers. Sit back and relax, enjoy wealth redistribution instead.
  • Don't forget there is always approval wall. Reasons ive been given, heard from colleagues
    1. Theres no budget (then they send someone using the same budget to an introductory course to java programming)(yah he was a java programmer %$&*&*)
    2. You are well qualified and dont need training (contradict with promotion time , you dont have the qualifications that the other guy has)
    3. You are in a critical role you need to train back up to cover( righhttttt)
    4. Budget is used up
    5. Not Your Turn
    Besides after

  • This seems a little patronizing. If I were an Amazon employee I might rather they take the money they're planning to spend subsidizing employee training and just pay it out in the form of additional salary. Then I could spend it on whatever I pleased.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @02:18AM (#40761059) Homepage

    Amazon just bought Kiva Systems [], which makes warehouse fulfillment system robots. Kiva already powers orders from major brands including Crate and Barrel,, Dillards,, Gap, Office Depot, Saks, Staples, Timberland, Toys-R-Us, and Walgreens. This [] is what order fulfillment is like with those robots. It takes about two minutes to learn the job and there is no chance for advancement.

    The people being "retrained" will be laid off soon.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I really don't think this has anything to do with personal development as much as it has to do with the upcoming cattle call for peak season.This is more or less another carrot to dangle since it's getting harder to get people to come back. People don't like being led on and generally treated like shit from managers that act as if they are running a military operation.It gets old after the first week or so. I spent a few years there and still feel bad for the way temps. were treated. I've seen Kiva in actio

  • by sonamchauhan ( 587356 ) <sonamc@gmail.3.14159com minus pi> on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @03:21AM (#40761433) Journal

    Educational assistance is fairly common...

    McDonalds, UPS... []

    "McDonald's tuition assistance program will reimburse up to $5,250 a year (which is the maximum IRS exemption), and $2,000 for part-time employees, which in effect adds two dollars an hour to someone's earnings. UPS has a program called Earn and Learn where students can have their tuition, expenses and transportation paid for if they work a part-time schedule; since 1999, UPS has paid out more than $47 million in tuition assistance alone."

    B&N []

    "Continuing Education
    Our continuing education program offers full-time booksellers tuition assistance if you choose to further your business career by taking courses toward a job-related degree. "

    • Many companies that employee lower skilled workers realize that there isn't room in the company for everyone to advance. They make these benefits available to attract people that want an education and need a job to help pay their way through school. The know that even having someone on board for 4 years both can benefit. The company gets someone that is stable and they can count on for 4 years. The employees get paid and tuition.

  • I don't mean to toot my own horn, but maybe those "train workers" could find new jobs with Ruby on Rails.

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.