Amazon will pay for hundreds of apprentices for online sellers Amid a widening tech skills gap, Amazon has announced it will create hundreds of apprenticeship roles to support 250 SMEs on the platform. Written by Helena Young Updated on 26 May 2023 Our experts We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality. Written and reviewed by: Helena Young Lead Writer Amazon has pledged to create 750 apprenticeships within SMEs across England next year, including 300 roles for companies that sell on its store.As part of an £8m investment, the tech giant will fund 300 of the new roles at small businesses that own an Amazon marketplace business.The initiative is part of the Amazon Apprenticeship Fund. Amazon has been running its own apprenticeship programme for the past decade. It claims to have successfully onboarded more than 3,000 apprentices in the last five years.Participants will be given access to various training programmes, including marketing and retail apprenticeship schemes, to help boost productivity and exports.Apprenticeship initiative is good news for the digital skills gapAlongside its small business seller community, the Amazon Apprenticeship Fund will invest in apprenticeships for customers of Amazon’s cloud-technology unit, Amazon Web Services (AWS).AWS customers will be able to train new workers in various IT roles, such as DevOps. Workers using cloud-based software can also be taught cloud computing skills.The news will be welcomed by technology SMEs. Small employers have struggled to find job-ready tech talent thanks to the expanding digital skills gap; itself aggravated by a record number of people leaving work due to sickness.In the UK, vacancies in the professional technical and scientific industry have increased by 58% from March 2020, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) labour market figures. That is the second-largest increase across all UK sectors.The challenge has caused some businesses to pause growth plans – less than ideal in the current economy. The State of European Tech22 poll, gathered by Atomico, found that as much as a quarter of businesses predicted that retaining talent would be an issue in 2023, up 66% from the year before.James Campanini, CEO of VeUP, an Amazon web seller, praised the initiative as “a practical programme and substantial investment to help close the UK’s chronic skills gap.”More employers catch on to the benefits of hiring an apprenticeThe latest figures from the ONS show that the number of vacancies in February to April 2023 was 1,083,000 – almost 26% higher than pre-coronavirus levels.In the era of labour shortages and reduced business savings, companies have been experimenting with alternative talent routes, such as hiring ex-offenders.Apprenticeships have quickly emerged as the saving grace for companies wanting to hire new staff members without sinking thousands into recruitment. Earlier this year, apprentice provider Multiverse calculated that the work of apprentices has resulted in more than £550m in cost-saving or revenue-generating activities for small UK employers.Starting an apprenticeship training programme is also becoming more popular amongst young people. With graduate salary expectations now massively outstripping base wage realities, many school leavers are looking to paid employment as an alternative to university.Campanini added: “Enabling the next generation to access high-quality apprenticeship schemes is critical for social mobility and economic growth. This initiative will open doors for hundreds of school leavers.”News marred by high-profile tech layoffsThe move is certainly good news for SME owners. However, its timing suggests it is also a PR move for Amazon. Like many tech companies, the ecommerce giant has made several mass layoffs to balance out rising overheads.While the promise to create 750 apprenticeship roles is welcome, the fact remains that the company has cut 27,000 UK jobs in 2023 alone.Amazon strikes at the firm's Coventry depot also hit the headlines in January as employees protested longer working hours. Whistleblowers described warehouse teams being unable to take toilet breaks.Nonetheless, Amazon sellers can feel comforted by the firm’s impressive legacy of apprenticeship delivery. The company claims that nearly nine in ten of the apprentices it has taken on since 2018 have transitioned into permanent roles.John Boumphrey, UK Country Manager at Amazon, said: “When we launched in 2021, we made a commitment to support around 250 new apprenticeships through the fund, but we’ve been inspired by the success of the programme to date, and expect to create around three times that number by this time next year.”For more information and how to apply to the Amazon Apprenticeship Fund, small business owners should email: email@example.com. Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Tags News and Features Written by: Helena Young Lead Writer Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.