Amazon to pay college tuition fees for 750,000 front-line employees

The company is investing $1.2 billion by 2025 in education and skills training for its workers

Amazon has offered to pay college tuition fees for 750,000 employees in the US through an investment of $1.2 billion by 2025, with the money also destined for education and upskilling programmes.

The tech giant has said that through its Career Choice programme it will fund full college tuition, high school diplomas, GEDs, and English as a Second Language (ESL) proficiency certifications for its front-line employees at “hundreds of education partners across the country”.

The company said that it would pay employees’ tuition and fees in advance instead of offering reimbursement after coursework completion, to ensure employees “don’t need existing funds to start accessing the education options they want”. Front-line employees will also have access to annual funds for education as long as they remain at the company, with no limit to the number of years they can benefit.

Only those employees that have been working at Amazon for at least three months will qualify for financial support, although this includes both full and part-time workers.

The company's FAQ on the announcement states that there will be a maximum amount of financial support on offer to each employee, but has yet to specify what this will be. It's also unclear at this stage which institutions will be supported.

“Amazon is now the largest job creator in the US, 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,” said Dave Clark, CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon. "We launched Career Choice almost 10 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.”

“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,” added Clark.

Amazon will also add three new education programmes to provide employees with the opportunity to learn skills within data centre maintenance and technology, IT, and user experience and research design.

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The first is AWS Grow Our Own Talent where employees can pursue roles within AWS data centres, like data centre technicians and operations technicians, and complete in-person, on-the-job training for up to six months. The second is Surge2IT, designed for entry-level IT employees to pursue careers in higher-paying technical roles through “self-paced learning resources”, which could see them earn an extra $10,000 a year. The third is the User Experience Design and Research (UXDR) Apprenticeship, a one year programme for employees to learn and develop skills in research and design on teams across the company.

Amazon also said through the new investment it would increase the amount of employees who can benefit from free skills training as part of its Upskilling 2025 programme from 100,000 to 300,000 employees.

Since the start of the pandemic it has reported a “surge in applications” to participate in education programmes, revealing that Amazon Technical Academy, a programme that helps employees become software engineers in nine months, had applications increase by 460% in the last 18 months.

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