Amazon to hire 55,000 new workers with focus on robotics


The Seattle-based giant Amazon said on Monday (1/9/2021) that it planned to recruit 55,000 workers around the world including 40,000 in the US over the next few months. In an interview with Reuters, Andy Jassy, Amazon’s new CEO said that the “company needed more firepower to keep up with demand in retail, the cloud and advertising, among other businesses”. He said the company’s new bet to launch satellites into orbit to widen broadband access, called Project Kuiper, would require a lot of new hires, too.

This suggests that rather than just accelerating the demand for warehousing staff, Amazon is investing both in other aspects of its business but also in robotics. As is often the case with these large US ‘tech’ businesses, there is significant investment in the UK which in the case of Amazon is a mix of ‘corporate’ roles at administrative offices but also in ‘tech hubs’ in Cambridge, London, Manchester, and Edinburgh. Robotics has always been important to Amazon because of its key role in warehouse operations and that such Amazon ‘tech hubs’ are in-part designed to deliver greater automation in both fulfilment centres but also in transport operations. Although its logistics capacity is vast, Amazon has traditionally been quite pragmatic in the design of its operations, with fulfilment centres still requiring substantial numbers of workers. As volumes climb ever higher at the retail business, the need for higher automation may increase.

Whilst Amazon continues to be a predominantly US-focussed company, especially for its retail operations, it is expanding its footprint elsewhere. In particular its logistics operations are set to expand in “India, Germany and Japan” according to Andy Jassy.  

This hiring spree illustrates that the e-retail onslaught is continuing around the world, with for example, Walmart also just announcing the recruitment of 20,000 employees for its fulfilment centres. This is even as in some economies the boom in e-retail has edged back with consumers resuming more normal shopping patterns. It seems clear that the demand for people, property and machines to run these facilities is unlikely to ease.

Source: Transport Intelligence, September 2, 2021

Author: Thomas Cullen