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SEATTLE -- Amazon will provide technical training to about one-third of its U.S. workforce at a cost of more than $700 million.

Amazon, which like other companies has struggled to find technically qualified U.S. employees, said that it will provide its workers with the skills to transition into software engineering positions and technical roles.

The Seattle company said Thursday that its U.S. workforce will hit 300,000 this year. It has more than 630,000 employees worldwide.

Amazon's announcement comes nearly a week after a government report showed that U.S. employers sharply stepped up their hiring in June, adding a robust 224,000 jobs. With June's pace of hiring, employers have now added, on average, a solid 171,000 jobs for the past three months.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.7 per cent in June from 3.6 per cent for the previous two months, reflecting an influx of people seeking jobs who were initially counted as unemployed. With unemployment levels so low, companies like Amazon, Walmart, Target and others are having in tough competition to not only find workers - but to keep them. That's why many businesses are spending more on training, showing employees that they are investing in their future at the company.

Amazon.com Inc. has been criticized by labour groups and some politicians, including presidential candidates, over what they see as substandard working conditions.