The government has committed to focussing on UK areas with traditionally lower economic activity and higher levels of deprivation – to boost prosperity outside of London and the south-east. There is an opportunity for businesses to play an active role through the creation of jobs, by investing in training and skills development, by supporting small businesses, and by playing a meaningful role within local communities.
Since Amazon launched in the UK over 20 years ago, we have grown from a single office in Slough to a company with nearly 40,000 employees working across the UK. Since 2010, we have invested a total of £23bn around the country. Keystone, an independent macroeconomic consultancy, estimates this has created nearly £45bn in value-added GDP.
The majority of jobs created from these investments are outside of London. This year alone, we are adding 10,000 new permanent roles and 20,000 seasonal positions across more than 50 sites in regions across the UK. We have also recently opened a corporate office in Manchester, and have long-standing research and development sites in London, Cambridge and Edinburgh where we employ highly skilled staff, such as software development engineers and data scientists.
Amazon provides some of the most advanced workplaces of their kind in the world, with industry-leading pay, processes and systems to ensure the well-being and safety of all employees. Pay starts at a minimum of £10.80 p/h in the London area and £9.70 p/h in other parts of the UK for all full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal roles in our fulfilment centres, sort centres and delivery stations. Permanent staff are offered life assurance, income protection, a company pension plan, and other benefits. Amazon has launched a pilot programme, offering free, regular Covid-19 testing to UK employees. This testing complements the extensive safety measures already in place to protect our people.
We also offer employees an innovative programme called Career Choice, which pre-pays 95 per cent of tuition for courses in high-demand fields, up to £8,000 over four years, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon. In addition, Amazon has recruited more than 700 apprentices during 2020, helping young people begin their careers in fields ranging from automation engineering and IT to digital marketing and fashion buyers, with pay of up to £30,000 a year for degree-level apprenticeships.
It is often said that small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy. We provide support and opportunities for tens of thousands of UK-based small and medium-sized enterprises that sell their products on Amazon. More than 60 per cent of them export to customers all over the world through our stores, achieving total export sales of more than £2.75bn in 2019 alone. Many of these businesses are located in areas such as the North of England and the Midlands, and have supported the creation of more than 85,000 job opportunities.
Jem Skelding, CEO of Naissance, started his ethical skincare and cosmetic ingredients business from his spare bedroom in Neath, Wales. Jem’s company exports products to over 90 countries with packaging in five languages, and turns over in excess of £10m. Naissance was voted Amazon’s Exporting Small Business of the Year. “Thanks to our growth, we have been able to create many new jobs within our local community as we now employ more than 100 people,” says Jem.
In June, to help small businesses like Naissance, we launched the Amazon Small Business Accelerator in partnership with small business support network Enterprise Nation. The Accelerator will help 200,000 small businesses and 1,000 offline businesses get online. Businesses can access free online learning, training and support, and join an intensive week-long bootcamp.
We launched our first local Accelerator in the Midlands in collaboration with the West Midlands Combined Authority. We expanded the programme in response to new research by Enterprise Nation revealing that
77 per cent of small businesses across the West Midlands wanted to increase their digital skills as a result of the impact of the pandemic and economic lockdown.
As lockdown restrictions eased this summer, we worked with the British Chambers of Commerce to offer up to 1,000 businesses tours of our fulfilment centres. This helped them to learn about the Covid-19 safety measures we put in place within our own operations, enabling them to re-open their own physical premises safely.
There are many opportunities for businesses and policymakers to work together at a local and national level to encourage regional investment and to support communities. This means actively developing regional growth priorities, workforce skills and the wider regional development agenda, as well as providing support and creating opportunities in communities that need them the most.
During these unprecedented times, we continue to use our logistics network and expertise in service of communities across the UK, including supporting the NHS to deliver over three million Covid-19 testing kits free of charge to homes across the UK, and distributing more than one million healthy breakfasts to disadvantaged children across the UK in partnership with charity Magic Breakfast.
Our commitment to the UK’s regions is demonstrated by our continued investment in jobs, skills and communities over the last decade. The whole of the UK is full of opportunity and we are excited by the potential to continue to invest, invent, and create jobs in communities up and down the country.