Amazon study reveals majority of UK workers favour on-the-job training or apprenticeships for a successful career start

20/06/2024

The majority of UK workers (61%) believe that on-the-job-skills training or apprenticeships are more valuable for preparing people for work today than traditional university degrees, a new UK career insights and workplace trends study commissioned by Amazon has found. 

The Amazon Future of Work & Career Development study by Ipsos, which comes as students complete their GCSE and A-Level exams, found that less than a third (31%) of UK workers aged 16-75 believe a traditional university degree is as essential for a good career as it was 10 years ago. 

The study also found 79% of UK employees think it’s more important to learn a new skill to improve their career path in the next 12 months, even more so than receiving a promotion (67%). When thinking about moving to a new job or role, 86% of adults say career development training is essential, very or fairly important and that training programmes offered by a potential employer are more or as important as company culture (84%) and flexible working (75%).

One potential reason is that many workers in the study said it would make them feel supported (41%), encouraged (38%), motivated (38%) and valued (37%) to work for a company that provides access to career development training. Additionally, a quarter of workers in the UK (24%) say they couldn’t afford to pay for training on their own.

In 2014, Amazon launched its Career Choice programme in the UK providing its operations employees with funding for adult education, offering to pre-pay 95% of tuition and reimbursement for eligible fees for nationally recognised courses – up to £8,000 over four years. 

Since the launch of Career Choice, Amazon has invested more than £55 million to give its UK employees access to more than 20 different programmes to help them maximise their potential within the company or further afield. To mark the 10-year anniversary of Career Choice, Amazon plans to invest a further £23 million in the UK this year and has added new courses including information security analysis, software testing, and procurement and supply.

“I attribute a lot of my growth at Amazon to Career Choice,” said Mo Abdullahi, a Senior Operations Manager who was the fourth UK Career Choice participant. “It gave me an opportunity to learn more about the role I wanted, and helped me obtain the qualifications I needed. I’m still super surprised of my journey and growth through Amazon. If I look back 10 years to when I started as a temporary worker, I certainly wouldn’t have assumed I would be at the level I am right now and with the responsibility I have now. It’s been an incredible journey.”

When it comes to jobs in the future, the study shows that training will need to play a key role in alleviating worker concerns, as 30% of UK workers are worried they won’t have the training and skills to be relevant in their job in the coming years. In fact, nearly three out of four UK workers (71%) believe people in the workforce today will need to continue to retrain and update their skills to continue working in the future. However, only 14% of employees say they have access to training to help them change their career path, and nearly two in 10 (18%) employees say they don’t think they have any access to training with their current employer. 

Elsie Merchant, a degree-level apprentice in Automation Engineering at Amazon in Coventry, says: “I’ve loved being involved in all sorts of jobs and projects, so I can learn by doing and applying the theory. I was never keen on going to university, but I knew I wanted to join the industry, and this is a great way to do that while also receiving further education.”

“The research reflects what we’re seeing in our workplace, and that is people in the UK want access to skills training programmes,” said John Boumphrey, Amazon UK Country Manager. “Amazon is proud to have offered our upskilling Career Choice programme in the UK for the past 10 years and to further expand our courses options, so that thousands of employees across the UK can continue to advance their skills and take on new career opportunities at Amazon and beyond.” 

Amazon is one of the top 10 private employers in the UK, with more than 75,000 employees, and more than 18,500 Amazon employees in the UK have participated in Career Choice since the programme launched. Learn more about Amazon’s upskilling and training programmes at aboutamazon.co.uk/workplace/upskilling  

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