Amazon is taking on 7,000 permanent staff in the UK to meet rising demand for online shopping and is recruiting 20,000 seasonal workers as it gears up for the festive period.
The new recruits, including engineers, IT specialists, warehouse workers, and health and safety experts, will work across more than 50 sites, including Amazon’s corporate offices and two new delivery warehouses which will open in the autumn in Durham and Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.
Temporary workers will also help to operate three pop-up parcel packing centres which will open for the busy Christmas period when online retail is expected to gain an even bigger slice of the market as shoppers continue to shun the high street.
The online retailer and web services provider said the new jobs were on top of 3,000 new permanent UK-based roles already created this year at its warehouses and depots.
Stefano Perego, Amazon’s vice-president of European customer fulfilment, said: “Our people have played a critical role in serving customers in these unprecedented times and the new roles will help us continue to meet customer demand and support small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon.”
Amazon has hired hundreds of thousands of workers across the world as it has expanded rapidly during the pandemic. In May, it offered permanent jobs to 125,000 workers in the US, its home market, while extending the contracts of another 50,000.
Globally Amazon reported that it had 840,000 workers when it released its 2019 annual report, although that figure has since risen to more than 1 million workers, making it one of the largest private-sector employers in the world.
Despite falls on Thursday, the share prices of Amazon and other US tech companies such as Apple, Google owner Alphabet and Netflix have surged during the course of 2020 as investors have increasingly bet on their dominance.
In the process the net wealth of large shareholders – most notably Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, 56, – has soared. Bezos’s fortune last week surpassed $200bn (GBP151bn), the first time a billionaire’s wealth had broken through that level, according to Forbes, which tracks the super-rich.
The share price gain has also meant that MacKenzie Scott, Bezos’s former wife, this week reportedly became the world’s richest woman. Scott has held a 4% stake in Amazon since her divorce from Bezos.
Amazon is not the only company that has hired thousands of workers to cope with extra demand during the pandemic. Amazon’s UK hiring spree comes after Tesco said it would permanently employ 16,000 extra staff taken on during the pandemic to help support a surge in online grocery trade. Electrical goods specialist AO.com, the DIY chain Kingfisher and the delivery firms DPD and Hermes have also together hired thousands more workers to cope with the rise in home deliveries.
However, thousands of high street jobs have gone, as shoppers switch away from visiting bricks-and-mortar stores to buying online. Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Boots are among the chains closing shops and cutting jobs.
The new Amazon jobs were welcomed by the UK government. Economists fear that unemployment will rise significantly as winter approaches and the government withdraws its coronavirus job retention scheme, which supports the wages of furloughed workers.
The UK’s business secretary, Alok Sharma, said: “While this has been a challenging time for many businesses, it is hugely encouraging to see Amazon creating 10,000 jobs in the UK this year.
“This is not only great news for those looking for a new job, but also a clear vote of confidence in the UK economy as we build back better from the pandemic. The government remains deeply committed to supporting retailers of all sizes and we continue to work closely with the industry as we embark on the road to economic recovery.”