Ursula: Amazon targeting ‘younger and less expensive’ coders

Feb 6, 2023, 2:12 PM | Updated: 2:29 pm
amazon hiring...
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Amidst mass layoffs, Amazon might also be changing their hiring policy for entry-level programmers to restrict positions only to students and recent grads, according to a leaked memo obtained by Business Insider.

The new policy is reportedly already in effect as of Jan. 25 and would disqualify applicants for low-level software development engineering positions that are more than 12 months out of college. The change is “global and Amazon-wide,” reports Insider, and the only way around it is through VP approval.

Microsoft, Amazon lays off almost 900 employees in Western Washington

On the Gee and Ursula Show, hosts Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin talked about why this change is happening and what this could do to the tech industry in Seattle.

“I think that they are, in my opinion, changing their criteria for who they are for who they bring in,” Ursula said. “And the emphasis is on fresh out of college while they’re making these cuts, I think they’re trying to get maybe potentially talented people for cheaper.”

According to the article, this is disputed by Amazon, saying that they will keep their same high hiring standards and that this is just a way to emphasize “ready-to-place candidates through Student Programs.”

“Any implication that we have lowered our hiring bar is incorrect,” an Amazon spokesperson told Insider. “We have well over 1 million employees and while we value everyone’s opinion, just because a few say something is true doesn’t make it so.”

Ursula said that while this might not be strictly intentional, it will be the inevitable result of these hiring policy changes.

“The company said any implication that lowering the hiring bar is incorrect. But, what are you naturally going to get if you’re looking for people fresh out of college?” Ursula said. “I mean, there’s going to generally be someone who’s younger and less expensive.”

The internal note said Amazon is making the change because of the “pipeline” of candidates available through student programs, but the memo nor Amazon’s spokesperson clarified to Insider why the company believes campus hires are better than experienced industry candidates for entry-level positions.

This would effectively make college a requirement again in the tech sector, Gee argues. Gone are the days of self-taught coders entering the industry with nothing but ingenuity and self-determination.

“I thought we were going to the next level, the next level of it doesn’t matter what college you attend, it doesn’t matter,” Gee said. “If you’ve attended college, if you are really good at what you do, then you can come and get this job, no more of the gatekeeper of ‘did you go to college.’ And so now I feel like that’s back on the table.”

You can listen to the full discussion on the changes here:

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ursula: Amazon targeting ‘younger and less expensive’ coders