Amazon to create more than 1,000 UK apprenticeships

Tech giant Amazon has committed to creating more than 1,000 apprenticeships at different levels across the UK

Amazon will create more than 1,000 apprenticeships across the UK over the next two years, including 90 degree-level and masters-level apprenticeships in roles such as software development, senior leadership and automation engineering.

The nine apprenticeship programmes will vary in level and remit, covering both entry-level and more senior roles, as well as disciplines such as IT and human resources (HR), plus leadership and robotics. They will run for a duration of between 13 months and four years.

Doug Gurr, UK country manager at Amazon, said part of the aim of the apprenticeships was to help people gain skills for roles in a digital era “regardless of their background”.

“Our fully funded apprenticeship programme, from entry level through to degree level, will provide an exciting path to becoming Amazon’s future team leaders, engineers and innovation drivers,” he said.

Of the apprenticeships offered, 20% will go exclusively to existing Amazon employees to help them build a career path from “shop floor” to working on new technology such as software development and robotics.  

The apprenticeships for existing employees will include a senior leader masters degree apprenticeship, an HR consultant apprenticeship, a health and environment apprenticeship and an apprenticeship for the role of technician and team leader/supervisor.

Other apprenticeships include all levels in IT, HR, software engineering, leadership, tech and robotics, and will be available across different corporate and operations sites in the UK, including Amazon’s head office, research and development centres, and fulfilment centres.

Opening up tech opportunities to all

Many from poorer socio-economic backgrounds can face barriers to entering technology roles or roles higher up in a business, such as lack of support from parents, lack of role models, none of the right social connections, a lack of education and financial barriers.

A lack of diversity in teams can exacerbate this problem, as many on the outside looking in can be deterred from a role because they don’t see others like them doing it.

In a bid to tackle barriers to entry, the programmes will be fully funded. Apprentices will also have access to employee discounts, private medical insurance, a company pension plan and competitive pay for the industry,

Once the candidates are qualified through a combination of classroom and hands-on training they will be able to work in teams across the UK developing technologies such as Alexa, machine learning, Prime Video and Prime Air.

There are already 300 apprentices working at Amazon. One of these is Nicola Elliot, who is in her second year of an automation engineering degree-level apprenticeship. Having started out as a nursing student, she changed her plans due to illness, and now wants to be an engineer.

She said of the apprenticeship: “Despite starting in nursing, I’ve always had a fascination with how things work and engineering was always my true passion. However, I didn’t want to be burdened with the costs of studying at university – I wanted to work full time. The Amazon apprenticeship programme has been life-changing, resulting in an engineering degree at one of the world’s most renowned companies for driving innovation. There are huge opportunities here when I complete my apprenticeship to move around the world or within different divisions at Amazon.”

Applications for the Amazon apprenticeships will be open from March 2019, and assessments for potential candidates will begin in April and May.

In a bid to tackle skills gaps in the UK and make apprenticeships a more appealing option for businesses and individuals, the government introduced an apprenticeship levy in 2017, to which firms with a payroll worth over £3m must contribute. Some firms in England are able to claim back some of this cash to invest in apprenticeships.

But while apprenticeships are increasingly considered a viable alternative to university, many are unaware that they are an option when choosing a career path, and experts believe more needs to be done to make apprenticeships and the government levy fit for purpose.

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