Amazon has just announced that it will train up to 100,000 workers – a third of its US workforce, in new skills ranging from machine learning and software development to vocations such as nursing. It’s investing $700 million in the initiative.
This very significant investment is welcome, particularly given that Amazon is often looked at as a benchmark in several industries. Where they go, others typically follow.
The initiative also demonstrates the speed at which digital technologies are changing the world, and how they are affecting the skills and capabilities that companies require. In order to create successful products and services, technology plays a fundamental role. Even for physical products, in many cases it’s the accompanying software which is what differentiates it. But to do this, companies require constantly changing skills. As a result, training and continuous education in skill development has become one of the most important factors for organizations to achieve long-term success.
Putting training at the heart of your organization
From the very early days of Belatrix, we’ve put training and continuous learning at the heart of the company. While it’s great to see other companies now catch up and place a similar emphasis on education, originally in our case this was born out of necessity. Given where we were based, in Mendoza, Argentina, 20 years ago it was difficult to find great technical talent. Today the situation is very different, as the city becomes known as the Silicon Valley of Argentina, but our emphasis on training remains. This necessity formed the basis of our industry leading training program, which offers our people around 100 hours of professional training every year.
Meanwhile, in performance evaluations, every employee at Belatrix is evaluated on their commitment to ongoing learning- and we measure and track what they are doing. Even more, training is one of the most important KPIs that we track in our strategic Balanced Scorecard as we consider it to be of very high strategic importance.
Finding the right skills for your digital projects
It is now essential for executives across the company to evaluate the skills and capabilities they will need today and in the future. Leading organizations are moving towards proactive sourcing, generating a pipeline of strong talent, whilst also training existing individuals in new areas. This isn’t easy to do and requires investment.
To put this into practice, at Belatrix we have a dedicated team of HR marketing professionals who support our HR team in building ongoing relationships with people – this enables us to significantly reduce the time it takes to hire people.
As part of this, we’ve built strong relationships with colleges and universities, and we hold so-called “casting calls” for young professionals interested in working with us. These have become highly recognized events as we make it a point to enrich everyone that participates in these highly selective sessions by providing free training, coaching, as well as a fun experience where they are not only tested in their technical skills but also taught and measured in their leadership and personal skills, all while having fun in a relaxed environment. We’ve also been focusing on improving the overall experience of our staffing funnel and the overall staffing process.
The benefits of investing in people go beyond acquiring the right skills
We know that providing people with training opportunities is one of the most effective ways of retaining great people. Highly qualified people today choose where they want to work, and those companies that don’t provide them with career opportunities and don’t invest in their capabilities, will soon find themselves with rising costs and rising attrition.
Furthermore, if we business leaders don’t take an active position in helping not only our own associates’ growth but that of the extended community, we will always be facing the “talent shortage”. In our case we make it a point to open up as much of our training as possible to people outside of the company.
For example, every time we’ve brought a US-based Scrum trainer to our LatAm locations, we’ve made sure to provide open classes for other non-Belatrix people to attend, in many cases for free, and in other cases at very discounted rates.
The news from Amazon demonstrates the new reality that many companies face today. Leading companies will only achieve success by making major investments in people and ensuring they have the skills they need.