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Business News/ Ai / Amazon Launches Free AI Classes in Bid to Win Talent Arms Race
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Amazon Launches Free AI Classes in Bid to Win Talent Arms Race


Company has set a goal to train two million people in AI as the fight for skilled workers ramps up with Microsoft and Google.

Amazon’s effort reflects a growing awareness among companies that AI could change how millions of people do their jobs.Premium
Amazon’s effort reflects a growing awareness among companies that AI could change how millions of people do their jobs. is launching a program to train millions of workers in artificial-intelligence skills as the tech giant seeks to gain an edge in a pitched battle for talent with Microsoft, Google and other companies.

Named “AI Ready," Amazon’s new program aims to train at least two million people by 2025 on basic to advanced AI skills, including how to make use of the generative AI technology that has powered language-based models like ChatGPT. Amazon aims to fill a gap in AI talent as it has sought to generate interest in its generative AI efforts after falling behind rivals. In launching its program, Amazon is adding to a broader effort by the corporate world to get workers in various fields trained in AI.

The training is centered on eight online courses that focus on generative AI and target people with both tech and tech-adjacent roles. The classes are catered to both beginners and those with more experience, and the company said it can form the foundation for professionals to prepare for the jobs and skills now needed in the industry. The courses are free to access online through an Amazon learning website and are available for non-Amazon employees.

AI “is going to be the most transformative technology we encounter in our generation, but it won’t reach its full potential unless we really have the workforce ready to embrace it and turbocharge it in a big way," said Swami Sivasubramanian, Amazon’s vice president of database, analytics and machine learning.

Amazon’s effort reflects a growing awareness across the corporate sphere that AI could change how millions of people do their jobs. Companies in industries ranging from real estate to retail are now experimenting in using generative AI to help in everything from crafting marketing materials to writing software code and answering human-resources questions.

Corporate retraining initiatives still generally remain in the early stages, as executives try to make sense of which roles AI will eliminate and which ones will be augmented by the technology. The changes brought by AI are expected to require workers to learn new skills or undergo additional training.

Plenty of workers have the capacity to change and learn new skills, said Jane Oates, a former Labor Department official and now president of WorkingNation, a nonprofit focused on workforce development. A bigger question is what they should learn, given the fast-changing nature of generative AI, and when they should undertake the training.

“It’s going to be complicated," Oates said. “I definitely would not use the word easy."

Employers as varied as real-estate company Jones Lang LaSalle to tech giant Salesforce have launched AI training programs or initiatives to help employees navigate the change. Many other leaders are beginning to think about how they can equip their employees to work with AI, said Allison Horn, managing director of Accenture’s talent consulting services.

Some of the greatest needs, even at tech companies, aren’t highly technical skills but training to help employees learn how to work alongside AI in basic ways, said Spencer Kimball, chief executive of database startup Cockroach Labs.

“Most people right now, this is all new to them," Kimball said. “And given how quickly things can change, it’s not just new employees that come, it’s something that is a constant training process for all of your employees."

Amazon said there appears to be a shortage of AI specialists. A survey by the company and consulting firm Access Partnership of thousands of employees and organizations found that nearly three-fourths of employers surveyed said they can’t find the AI talent they need, despite most saying they plan to deploy AI in the next five years.

Sivasubramanian, the Amazon executive, said the company’s primary goal is to “democratize" generative AI education. Sivasubramanian said the re-skilling of workers wouldn’t only benefit Amazon but also its enterprise customers who seek more AI-educated employees with skills such as prompt engineering, the practice of knowing which commands to give generative AI for useful results.

Sivasubramanian said the new program is a starting point to reskill workers in AI and that Amazon will seek feedback on how to improve the training.

Amazon has previously offered some AI training, but it says its new program is a wide expansion of those efforts, with a focus on generative AI.

Several of the courses are also about Amazon’s own platforms, including for use of Amazon’s Bedrock AI platform that helps build generative AI applications. Another one teaches on Amazon’s CodeWhisperer, a tool that automatically produces lines of code. Other courses include material related to Amazon business customers and AI partner companies such as Anthropic and Stability AI.

Amazon is also funding scholarships for student AI courses and said it joined with educational nonprofit to offer an “Hour of Code" for students to learn about generative AI.

As generative AI has become tech’s newest obsession, Amazon has been perceived to be behind its rivals. Microsoft and Alphabet’s Google made large investments in the field and the next generation of online chatbots. Amazon, which has concentrated its AI efforts in its cloud-computing business, Amazon Web Services, was late to join the AI race, though executives have argued that the company has worked on the technology for years.

Chief Executive Andy Jassy recently said he expects generative AI to reap tens of billions of dollars for AWS in the next several years, and that AI is touching every part of Amazon. The company in September said it had agreed to invest up to $4 billion in Anthropic, which agreed as part of the deal to use Amazon’s custom chips to build and deploy its AI software.

Write to Sebastian Herrera at and Chip Cutter at

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