My job takes me to many Amazon FCs. The job families that we currently offer through career development classes are usually things like CDL, operations management, dentistry, EMT, process engineering, mechanical tech, etc. It is really a grab bag of what is most highly requested by the diverse working cohort at each FC.
Code as HN would think of it is not as common, but associates becoming IT or facilities technicians or engineers(remember, these things are teeming with robotics and conveyor systems) is highly common.
I've complained numerous times at my FC that none of the career programs are actually careers, and that none of the degree programs offer anything higher than an associates degree. FC employees with any technical expertise and a desire to retrain somewhere in the Amazon network beyond the FC system seem to be SOL. Of course, the situation might differ between facilities.
And I work at a FC near the second biggest tech hub in the US... it would be easy pickings for Amazon (pun intended) but it seems like no dice. But if I want a second associates' degree and to restart my career as a truck driver or paralegal at 40, I can do that.
17% strikes me as not bad. Not great, but not awful. People who take jobs that are at eminent risk of automation probably weren't exceptionally diligent in school the first time around. Add in the burdens of adulthood (parenting, bills, etc) and the odds of staying in a retraining program seem bleak.
You poor bastard. I worked for the federal government too.
I remember being told that working for the government for more than a few years would make me unemployable in the private sector. The idea was one's work ethic would be irremediably damaged. I thought that was foolish at the start of my time there, but a year later I had a new respect for the heuristic.
There are a bunch of different programs targeting different cohorts. Associate2Tech and AmazonCareer choice are targeting the fulfillment center workers.
ATA is incredibly successful at small scale. Biggest challenge is scaling it up + making it work for everyone. If you are familiar with amazon's think big and pr faqs, educated guesses can be made as to the end vision for that program.
1. Is it really too much to believe that someone with a physically demanding job might be in good enough condition to do something else after work? I'm pretty sure folks in all sorts of physical jobs have physical hobbies as well. You never hear this sort of excuse about carpenters.
2. It's hard to work full time and go to school after. It's by definition going above and beyond.
There are a lot of awful jobs. Roofer in Phoenix in the summer, for example.
No, I don't think people are being too lenient -- it's a bit more subtle than that. There are many physically demanding jobs, some as much or more so than warehouse worker. I was questioning why we never see people say people in those job families couldn't possibly study after a day at work.
What you want to do is also irrelevant, as you might have an enjoyment of carpentry. Me, I hate it, and would rather be a warehouse worker.
Amazon warehouse jobs aren't just physically demanding. I agree that one can study hard after half a day spent on some physical effort. Instead the problem is that Amazon pickers are under constant stress all those hours to meet targets far more demanding than most other jobs. I would expect that constant mental stress to leave people so frazzled at day's end that they would be unable to hit the books and concentrate.
And you've just made my point for me. "Most" other jobs. It's not the most difficult, most physical, most dangerous. Where are the people saying people in job "X" can't possibly study after a day at work? Somehow, that reasoning is confined to warehouse workers.
>Probably about 0% for their warehouse workers: they're so exhausted by the end of their shifts that they won't have the energy to learn, and their most at risk of losing their jobs to automation.
I work at one of those warehouses and people do try to put in the effort to learn - unfortunately, Amazon only offers Associates' Degree level education and (judging from public complaints) all but forces people to work night shifts and extra hours to keep their numbers up, and doesn't actually teach the classes well, because of course their first, primary and overriding interest is in having their warehouse employees meet their quotas and fulfill business needs.
Which is why I recently just suggested that people just take Udemy courses and stay away from Amazon's offers altogether.
My first job out of school 25 years ago they were big on further education and training. You actually had in your yearly objectives that you complete atleast 10 days of training. There was a dedicated campus for this purpose. And these were indepth courses that would spend 5 full days on some skills. I don't see that kind of thing any more and miss it.
Amazon revenue in 2018 grew 30% over 2017, but headcount grew only 15%, which is quite an increase in efficiency per employee. That doesn't really make the headlines since there is still overall headcount growth.
As they get larger it is harder to grow revenue that fast percentage-wise. If revenue growth rates drop below ~15%, and that rate of efficiency gains continue, then it would lead to net headcount reductions, which will likely generate much less positive press. So this seems like a good way to get ahead of that soon to be upcoming bad press. Whether it is just PR spin or a genuine effort to mitigate this is I guess open for debate.
I don't ever see the actual modeling work around AI becoming blue collar. It's complex and worth the price to the companies that can build a business around it. The data labeling, however, can be pretty simple.
In a way that's already happened, though maybe not in the way youre thinking of. Machine learning data is more and more being collected by volunteers or paid content curators. These jobs are generally low pay and in foreign countries. There's a huge outsourcing of "blue collar" mechanical Turks going on right now that is essential to most supervised learning methods.
It kind of bothers me that there's always an assumption on HN that we need to retrain people into coders instead of any one of the hundreds of other jobs in high demand. You'd probably have a lot better results retraining warehouse workers into plumbers, electricians, and HVAC installers, for example. Or on the corporate side, QA testers, entry level IT support, etc.
The training programs could help Amazon workers find jobs in different industries, the company said. It is expanding a program for fulfillment-center employees called Amazon Career Choice that pays 95% of tuition and fees for certificates and degrees in high-demand fields such as nursing and aircraft mechanics
I am one of these folks. Sometimes I have received stigma about being so. "Oh, get out of that" is one direct quote, and through an expression of disgust.
I still don't know why. You want your widget to explode? Just not turn on? Fail after three days? Shall I tell you just how many dud brand-new flash drives I've tossed over the past 6 days alone for -- I guess -- giggles and jollies and I should just smile and like it? That's what I'd like to "get out of".
I have colleagues who copy paste security restrictions to all controllers, disable XSS protections when an ampersand doesn't show, proliferate a tree of possibilities they can't fully account for. We will need a brand new generation of tools to reduce consequences of bad code.
I agree, but also keep in mind that bad code is often still better than no code. There are still many many low hanging fruits for automation left that are not worthwhile to tackle while programmers cost $100+ per hour and the humans that currently run those tasks make mistakes too.
I suspect that most laymen find our line of work to be kind of trivial and think that success in this field is more related to youth than intelligence. To them, "coding" is more akin to carpentry (a trade) than physics (a science).
Also, pointing out that not every coal miner can learn to code is seen as culturally insensitive and perpetuating the stereotype that rural people are dumb. Which I understand, but a little honesty could have seen these resources better leveraged to help these people in different ways.
Your suspicions are exactly opposite from what I can tell talking to a number of blue-collar people. A lot of the ones I’ve talked to seem very apprehensive about learning anything technical involving a computer, and it all seems kind of mystical in there eyes. Honestly I think a lot of what holds people back is a lack of confidence and a willingness to learn more than anything else.
Is carpentry really that easy to master? Practical arts all require lots of practice. The only thing that makes coding very different is all the abstraction (so more like machine design than wood assembly).
I used carpentry very deliberately. It's a skill that's seen to require practice, but is still very accessible. Most able-bodied people can build stuff with wood. In fact, most of our grandfathers (assuming American) probably did wood working as a hobby.
It used to be taught to grade school kids. I distinctly remember building adirondack chairs, picnic tables, and benches in wood shop, from dimensional lumber, for use in local parks. Thirteen year old kids can build practical objects using wood, with guidance.
While physics is voodoo. Even genuinely intelligent people have difficulty grasping it.
CS probably lies somewhere in-between, intellectually, but is seen as something that can just be taught to any person and they can be productive.
indeed, I'll stick to coding. Tried a number of times to do some wood work, a simple mitre joint is way harder than you'd think. But then there are few true carpenters left, its mostly low skilled work e.g. framers.
Knew a guy who could do the most precise joins, its a skill people seem to be born with, or its grown somehow. If the only jobs in demand demanded the ability to construct a dovetail joint, I'd be in big trouble.
Honestly, the classicist/entitled bullshit about what we (technologists) do is completely unearned. What most of us do isn’t special and the gate-keeping many people in this industry do to prevent others from entering this industry (and I’m guilty of it too at times) is unearned.
I’m glad Amazon is doing things like this. I’m glad programs are encouraging coal miners to learn a new skill.
Programming wasn’t always seen as white collar work.
I agree. There was a time it was normal for an organization to invest in its employees. Perhaps it's cheaper to externalize the costs of retraining for smaller firms. But perhaps for larger employers it is starting to make economic sense. I hope this becomes a real trend.