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20 May 2022

Amazon and East Midlands Chamber launch pioneering training event

Amazon and East Midlands Chamber have teamed up at an innovative event aimed at plugging the skills gap for businesses in the region.

Businesses from across the East Midlands had the opportunity to learn more about Amazon’s Career Choice programme as part of an event – the first of its kind in the UK – hosted by the Chamber and Amazon at the e-commerce firm’s Kegworth fulfilment centre on Thursday 12 May.

Last year, Amazon UK announced a £10m investment to train up to 5,000 employees in new skills via its Career Choice programme, where the company pays course fees for its employees who have expressed an interest in pursuing a career elsewhere in Amazon or outside the company.

The programme provides funding for adult education by pre-paying 95% of tuition and associated fees for nationally-recognised courses – up to £8,000 over four years. Courses available range from accountancy to HGV drivers and software developers.

The Kegworth event provided businesses with the opportunity to learn about Career Choice, meet some of the programme’s training providers and network with Amazon employees who are either taking part in the scheme or are due to take part in the future.

Celia Syme, general manager at Amazon in Kegworth, said: “Amazon is a proud member of the business community in the East Midlands and this event underlines our commitment to the region.

“We’ve enjoyed welcoming local businesses to our fulfilment centre where they have been able to meet our team members – and promote their own businesses – and I hope many of them will take advantage of our Career Choice programme in the weeks and months to follow.”

Bridging the skills gap

The Amazon Career Choice programme will also help to address the skills gap currently impacting businesses in the East Midlands.

East Midlands Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey has highlighted a skills shortage in the region, which is restricting productivity and growth, and the network identifies the programme as a mechanism for assisting members looking for new recruits.

East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “Our members have long said there are skills shortages hindering productivity and growth, with the latest research from our Quarterly Economic Survey showing that while 63% of East Midlands businesses attempted to recruit in the first quarter of the year, four in five of these reported difficulties.

“This is a great initiative from Amazon to plug this skills gap within the region’s business community and provide a boost for the economy. We’re delighted to have been the first Chamber to host one of these regional events, bringing benefit to our members and to the wider East Midlands community.”

Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, added: “Amazon Career Choice is an innovative programme that offers fantastic benefits for the business community here in the East Midlands and across the UK. This initiative will open up a wide range of opportunities for even more workers, helping to develop the skills needed to power this region’s economy.”

Tarmac among interested businesses

Ash Moosa, from Leicester, has been area manager at the Kegworth fulfilment centre for the past two years following a previous career as a fragrance expert for the likes of Dior and Chanel, training sales people and picking up a customer service award along the way.

Not only is he a Career Choice student himself, but also one of its greatest advocates.

“One of the most amazing things about my job is to inspire others to better their own life by making use of Career Choice,” said Ash, who is part-way through a two-year HR management course from which he plans to transfer to a business management qualification in his third year.

“Some people need encouragement, need a little confidence to follow their career hopes, and I firmly believe it’s my role to provide that encouragement whenever I can.”

Rita Tapp, national resourcing manager for Tarmac, the UK’s leading sustainable construction materials, road contracting and building products company, attended the event.

She added: “The Amazon Career Choice programme is a brilliant way to motivate and retain staff, while also giving them the opportunity to see what’s available with other employers. It’s been exciting to attend the event to find out more about it.”

Supporting the East Midlands

Amazon Career Choice is one of many ways that Amazon is supporting businesses and communities across the East Midlands.

Amazon has created more than 5,000 full and part-time jobs across its East Midlands operations, which includes five fulfilment centres, a sort centre and three delivery stations.

Since 2010, more than 440 people have completed Amazon’s employability skills training programme and more than 210 apprenticeships have been created in the East Midlands.

The company has also invested more than £1.7bn in the East Midlands during this period, leading to the production of goods and services that contributed an estimated £1.9bn to the region’s GDP since 2010.

In partnership with the charity Magic Breakfast, Amazon also delivered more than 15,000 healthy breakfasts to vulnerable children and schools across the region in 2020.