Amazon moves deeper into offering postsecondary credentials, following Google and other big employers, but largely bypasses traditional colleges with the expanded training options.
Amazon has drawn praise for announcing last week it will spend $700 million over six years to retrain 100,000 of its employees, for jobs within the company and beyond.
The retail giant’s decision to expand its own postsecondary training and credential programs, largely outside traditional higher education, also is a shot across the bow for colleges and universities.
Driven by a tight labor market and increasing automation that appears likely to eliminate many of its frontline jobs, Amazon’s announcement that it would retrain a third of its U.S. work force was a necessity and not a “feel-good move,” said Michael Horn, head of strategy for the Entangled Group, an education venture firm.
The company has been working to get up to speed quickly on learning design for a broad array of training options, said Horn.
“It’s not clear that academe has that at scale,” he said, adding that Amazon’s decision to go outside higher ed should be “deeply threatening” to community colleges and continuing-education divisions of research universities that are eager to expand their employer partnerships on training and credential programs.