HGV driver training has become the most popular course on Amazon’s Career Choice programme which is designed to upskill employees who are interested in pursuing a future at Amazon or elsewhere.

Since May, more than 400 employees from Amazon’s network of fulfilment centres, sort centres and delivery stations have started their company-funded truck driver training. The first will be available for work later this month, helping to plug a shortage of drivers in the haulage industry.

Career Choice is an innovative programme that provides funding for adult education, offering to pre-pay 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, and are designed to help employees pursue careers at Amazon or elsewhere.

£10 million investment over three years

In May, Amazon announced that it is investing £10 million over three years in Career Choice to train up to 5,000 employees in new skills to meet the UK’s future employment needs outside of Amazon. Amazon is also partnering with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and local businesses on the programme to identify regional skills shortages and focus training on local demand.

Two of the Amazon employees who are currently taking part are Ellis Biggar and Ben Grace.

Ellis Biggar, 23 and from Kirkcaldy, is a member of the team at Amazon’s Dunfermline fulfilment centre who currently works in the customer returns department. He previously worked as a baker and joined Amazon two years ago as he was impressed by the opportunities Amazon offered.

“I really enjoy working at Amazon and the support I have received in order to allow me to study HGV driving has been amazing. Being able to study through Career Choice where Amazon is paying 95% of my course fees has been brilliant. No other company provides the opportunities Amazon does to upskill and move into a different field of work.”

Ellis will be sitting his driving test soon and added: “Once I complete my training I hope to progress my career as a lorry driver as there are a lot of opportunities available and I am excited about what the future holds.”

Ben Grace, also aged 23, is a member of the Inbound team at Amazon’s Rugby fulfilment centre. He is just a few weeks into his HGV course but is already enjoying the experience. “It’s a really good course which should take about three months to complete,” said Ben who is from Rugby and joined Amazon two years ago.

“I’ve always thought about trying HGV driving and Career Choice is a great option and I’d encourage anyone to apply for something they’re interested in.”

Ben joined Amazon two years ago in what he describes a great move: “Which other company offers anything like Career Choice?”

And while Ben doesn’t yet know where his new skills will take him, his focus is on successfully completing his training. “I passed my driving test first time five years ago so I’m hoping for a repeat this time!”

Amazon’s Vice President of UK Operations, Jonathan Gal, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support more than 400 of our employees to achieve their ambition to become HGV drivers through our Career Choice programme and play a part in helping to boost the haulage industry.”

He added: “We’re proud of the front-line roles we offer across Amazon, and we also know that they will be a stepping stone for some in their career journey. For people whose ambitions fall outside of our company, we are pleased to support them by paying for training and academic courses that can support their ambitions.”

Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce said: “To tackle skills shortages and improve business productivity we need to ramp-up investment in the training and reskilling of the workforce. Business has a major part to play in supporting people to gain new skills and it’s great to see how Amazon’s initiative is helping to launch new careers and boost resilience in local supply chains.”

Find out more about Amazon’s Career Choice programme.