Amazon Inc. has revealed plans to pay full college tuition for its U.S. front-line workers, which will bring the eCommerce giant’s education and skills training benefits total investment to $1.2 billion by 2025.
The company’s Career Choice program will fund full college tuition as well as high school diplomas, GEDs, and English as a Second Language (ESL) proficiency certifications for its front-line employees, including those who have been at the company for just three months. Amazon will also be adding three new education programs to allow employees to learn skills relating to data center maintenance and technology, IT, user experience and research design.
Starting in January 2022, U.S. Amazon front-line employees will be eligible to have their full college tuition paid upfront without having to wait for reimbursements after coursework completion. In addition, the company’s front-line employees will have access to annual funds for education as long as they remain at the company, without any limitations on the number of years they can make use of the benefit. U.S. hourly employees can start taking advantage of these benefits as soon as 90 days after employment.
“Amazon is now the largest job creator in the U.S., and we know that investing in free skills training for our teams can have a huge impact for hundreds of thousands of families across the country. We launched Career Choice almost ten years ago to help remove the biggest barriers to continuing education—time and money—and we are now expanding it even further to pay full tuition and add several new fields of study,” said Dave Clark, CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon.
“This new investment builds on years of experience supporting employees in growing their careers, including some unique initiatives like building more than 110 on-site classrooms for our employees in Amazon fulfillment centers across 37 states. Today, over 50,000 Amazon employees around the world have already participated in Career Choice and we’ve seen first-hand how it can transform their lives.”
Additionally, Amazon is launching three new upskilling programs to provide career advancement opportunities for its employees – all tuition-free.
“Today, there are not enough workers to fill every open job in the United States, which means that businesses are struggling to hire—especially for roles that require specific or technical skill sets,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Senior Vice President Cheryl Oldham.
“When large employers like Amazon commit to investing in their people through upskilling programs, especially in technical fields, it helps to ensure that the business community has access to a workforce pipeline that meets their needs today and in the future. At the Chamber Foundation, we work with employers across the country to pursue solutions that ensure American workers have the right skills to best support and grow our economy and we applaud Amazon for the investment they’re making in the workforce.”
These efforts follow Amazon’s Upskilling 2025 initiative Amazon which was launched two years ago. Under the initiative, the company made a $700 million commitment for training 100,000 U.S. employees by 2025 and helping them transition into in-demand, higher-paying jobs. Since the launch, more than 70,000 employees have participated in one of Amazon’s nine upskilling programs, the eCommerce giant.
With today’s additional investment and expanded education benefits for employees, the company is more than tripling its original pledge – with a mission to invest in 300,000 employees over the next four years.
Since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon has reportedly witnessed a surge in applications for its education programs. For example, Amazon Technical Academy, an upskilling program that helps Amazon employees from all backgrounds become software engineers in nine months, received thousands of applications, with interest increasing 460 percent over the past 18 months.
Amazon scaled all of its upskilling programs to accommodate a surge in demand, adapting to work-from-home schedules and welcoming more participants by pivoting from in-person to virtual training. In addition to the new and expanded programs, Amazon employees have free access to various skills training programs, including Amazon Technical Academy and The Amazon Technical Apprenticeship, a program that creates paths to technical jobs, primarily for veterans and military spouses looking to transition into technical professions. The Machine Learning University is another program that helps employees with a background in technology and coding gain graduate-level skills in machine learning and AI to solve customer problems.