Amazon And The Learning Tree

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by: John M. Mason
Summary

Amazon's announced effort to retrain one third of its employees over the next few years in order to keep up with changing technological needs of the company is gaining attention.

Could it be that the Amazon move, generating all this attention, might serve as the "tipping point" for major shifts the educational system of the United States?

As the needs to handle the growth and spread of information swell, new approaches will be created to adjust to the "new" situation.

The important thing, for investors and others, is to be a part of the solution, rather than fight the changes.

Yesterday, my post commended Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) for its efforts to retrain large numbers of its employees to take on the responsibilities that will need to be covered in the changing future.

As I mentioned in that post, other companies are moving in the same direction.

To me, this is a part of how things are going to have to be in the future. Corporations are going to have to take on more of the training and re-training of the emerging work force.

This is a move, not unlike, the movement of the modern corporation into a business model where new products and services are delivered on the basis of time, and not on the basis of events.

The impacts of innovation are just emerging too rapidly and too continuously to postpone changes until everything is in place. The world is emerging into a more incremental process than one that is discrete in nature.

Some may look at the Amazon move as more business as usual.

I think that we are going to see more and more movement in this direction in the future and as these changes take place, I believe that we will see a major change in the whole educational process in America…and the world.

One of the most crucial parts to this evolutionary trend is that people, communities, governments, etc., are going to have to work together more than ever.

Lifetime education is going to be a reality for more and more people, whether or not they want it.

Just like the fact that we have to accept that information continues to grow and spread, the means of doing business also spreads and combines areas in platforms and networks that were never envisioned before.

This why I want to highlight the top editorial in Saturday's Wall Street Journal

The writers of the editorial put Amazon’s action in a more confrontational mode.

“Now CEO Jeff Bezos is gunning for the higher-education-government complex by paying for advanced technical and vocational education for Amazon’s U.S. employees.”

“The Seattle-based retailer on Thursday rolled out a plan to retrain a third of its U.S. workforce by 2025, or about 100,000 employees. That’s more than most state universities enroll in a year, let alone graduate.”

The reason for this move?

“The company thus knows better than most that many jobs today probably won’t exist within a few years, and America doesn’t have enough workers equipped with skills for jobs that will soon be in high demand such as drone operators. A worker shortage—sometimes described as a skills gaps—is hampering growth in many industries, and Amazon doesn’t want to be caught flat-footed.”

That is, things are moving so rapidly, innovations can almost be considered to be continuous, and companies in the world of today cannot afford to be caught short of the human capital that they need.

And, the expense of this effort will be paid for by…Amazon.com.

The editorial goes on:

“Put simply, this is job retraining subsidized by Amazon. Even if Amazon eventually eliminates their positions, employees who take advantage will be better able to find work in another role at the company or with another employer. This will be far superior to the federal job-training programs that are often run by labor unions with little connection to the real future needs of employers.”

“Amazon will also fund graduate-level education for its software engineers at its Machine Learning University.”

And, the editorial emphasis that this whole effort is not charity:

“Amazon is acting in its self-interest by providing these educational benefits to attract and retain workers to stay ahead of competitors in a tight labor market.”

But, the rest of the world will not stand still.

If Amazon and others successfully move into the fields of education and re-training, the universities, the schools, governments, and others will also move to adapt the current system. Things will not stay still.

How these various parties will work together is another matter. But, my guess is that they will start working together, sooner rather than later.

In fact, there are already discussions and efforts going on…more than we know of or hear about.

The point is, this is the direction of this new era. And, as in every other evolutionary case, people and institutions adapt. The thing is, we need to accept this fact and become a part of the solution rather than groan and moan about the changes and remain a part of the legacy.

Information grows and spreads.

That is an historical fact. How it grows and spreads is another story, one that we need to become a part of.

Time pacing, as a business model, changed the delivery of goods and services to the population.

Building lifetime learning into the system will only contribute to a smoother adjustment of the economy to the advancement of technology. This can only make a positive contribution to the economy.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.