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Amazon To Finance Its Employees College Fees Worth $1.2 Billion

Amazon To Finance Its Employees College Fees Worth $1.2 Billion
Amazon today announced that it will cover 100% of tuition costs for approximately 750,000 hourly U.S. employees. Amazon estimated that this new benefit, along with the training it will provide, would require an investment of $1.2Billion by 2025.
Amazon's announcement follows other major employers like Target and Walmart, which have extended similar offers to U.S. employees. National companies continue to sweeten their compensation pot to attract and retain workers in this tight labor market.
Amazon will offer a college tuition waiver, textbooks, and fees for hourly workers in warehouses, transportation, and other areas that will allow them to earn bachelor's degrees. The program will be available beginning January 2022. An employee must have worked for Amazon for at least 90 days to be eligible.
This new benefit will cover the cost of high school diploma programs, GEDs, and English as a Second Language certification. Amazon will offer three new education programs that provide employees with skills in data center maintenance, technology, IT, user experience, research design, and IT.
Amazon offered to cover 95% tuition fees, textbooks, and fees for hourly associates under its career choice program. This benefit provided up to $12,000 per year for hourly associates who had been employed for at least one year. The program was restricted to "certificates or associate degrees in high demand occupations such as aviation mechanics, computer-aided designing, machine tool technologies, nursing, and medical lab technologies."
In a press release, Dave Clark, CEO at Amazon Worldwide Consumer, stated that Amazon is the biggest job creator in America. "We created Career Choice nearly 10 years ago to remove the greatest barriers to continuing education--money and time--and now we're expanding it further to cover full tuition and add new fields.
"This investment is based on years of experience supporting employees to grow their careers. This includes unique initiatives such as building 110 classrooms on-site for employees in Amazon fulfillment centres across 37 states. Over 50,000 Amazon employees have participated in Career Choice today, and we have seen firsthand how it can transform lives.
Amazon stated that it would pay tuition and fees upfront to employees rather than reimburse them after they have completed coursework. This will allow employees with limited funds to immediately start accessing the education options that interest them. The annual education fund will be available to front-line employees for as long as they are employed by the company. There is no limit on the number of years they may benefit from it.
Amazon has yet to indicate which colleges employees will be eligible for the new benefit.
Amazon's decision today will enable it to keep up with other national employers, in addition to Walmart or Target that recently increased their educational benefits for employees.
Amazon is making this the latest move to increase its workforce. It announced that it was going to hire 75,000 workers and would increase the starting salary from $15 to $17 per hour. To attract workers, it also offered sign-on bonuses up to $1,000.
Amazon announced that it will retrain 300,000 employees, or about 30%, for more skilled, fast-growing positions within the company in the next four years. Employees will not have to pay tuition for this up-skilling.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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