Amazon is offering to cover the full cost of college degrees for more than 750,000 US hourly employees in a push to attract new workers

snap4512.png
Thursday, September 9, 2021

Amazon is broadening its education benefits in an attempt to attract new workers. 

The company announced Thursday that it will offer to pay for a college education for its more than 750,000 hourly employees in the US. 

Starting in January, both part- and full-time employees can enroll in associate or bachelor's degrees, high school completion programs, GEDs, or English as a Second Language certification programs. Amazon will fully cover relevant costs, including tuition, classes, books, and fees. Previously, Amazon covered 95% of the cost of tuition, books, and fees and only offered associate's degrees and certifications. The company also says it will pay for tuition and fees upfront instead of the more traditional practice of reimbursing workers after they finish their courses. 

Workers can take advantage of the education benefit after 90 days of employment. Previously, employees had to wait a year into their employment at the company to be eligible to enroll. 

Amazon says it will invest $1.2 billion by 2025 to offer the expanded education and skills training benefits. 

Amazon is also getting rid of the lifetime maximum on its education benefit, which means workers will be able to access annual education funds for as long as they stay with the company. Amazon is working with "hundreds of education partners across the country" to offer the education benefit, according to the press release. 

The expanded benefit will be offered through Amazon's tuition assistance program, Career Choice. More than 50,000 Amazon workers worldwide have taken advantage of the program in the nearly 10 years since it launched, said Amazon's CEO of Worldwide Consumer, Dave Clark, in the press release. 

Amazon also announced Thursday that it is adding three new skills training programs to prepare workers for jobs as IT engineers, user experience designers, and data center technology technicians. 

"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 in the press release. "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."

Amazon is the latest in a series of companies enhancing their education benefits to strengthen hiring efforts. In July, rival Walmart announced it would foot the bill for employees' tuition and book costs at 10 educational institutions. Target followed suit in August, announcing it would help its more than 340,000 US workers get an education debt-free. Companies like Starbucks, Chipotle, and Verizon also offer tuition assistance

The push to appeal to workers via expanded education benefits comes as the cost of college keeps climbing, with Gen Z paying twice as much for college as baby boomers paid

Click here for original story

Story by:Sarah Jackson