In a his annual letter to shareholders, released today, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos asked a question that's fundamental to how companies train employees: Are high standards intrinsic, or teachable?
"I believe high standards are teachable. In fact, people are pretty good at learning high standards simply through exposure," he writes.
Bezos' belief in the power of training and educating employees is reflected in one of the company's biggest employee initiatives — career choice. Through the career choice program, Amazon will pay for 95 percent of tuition, fees and textbooks — up to $12,000 over four years — for hourly associates with one year of tenure to earn "certificates and associate degrees in high-demand occupations such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technologies, medical lab technologies and nursing."
This focus on high-demand occupations reflects Amazon's data-driven business practices. Amazon is a data-driven company. Everything from how shelves are stocked to the way goods are transported is informed by statistical analysis, so it should come as no surprise that their employee training benefits would be driven by data.
"This program is peculiar (just like we are). In fact, it's safe to say you won't find anything quite like it anywhere else," says the Amazon website. "We exclusively fund education only in areas that are in high demand according to sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and we fund those areas regardless of whether those skills are relevant to a career at Amazon."
"We offer training paths that could very likely lead to opportunities and careers outside of Amazon," but we think if we think we can help people realize their dreams, we want to be a part of it," says Juan Garcia, Global Leader for Associate Career Development at Amazon in a video.
According to Bezos' letter, over 16,000 Amazon associates have taken advantage of the career choice program in over 10 countries.
Here are the four fields that Amazon calculates will be the in-demand industries of tomorrow:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the transportation industry is expected to add 634,300 new jobs between 2016 and 2026 and CNBC's Annie Nova reports that there will be 108,400 new truck driving jobs over the next eight years.
The healthcare industry is witnessing tremendous jobs growth. The BLS reports that healthcare employment of healthcare occupations is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, adding about 2.4 million new jobs.
Mechanical and skilled trades
Mechanical and skilled trades are currently in high demand and can offer workers without an advanced degree high-paying salaries. For instance, if Amazon associates studied aircraft mechanics like Bezos suggests, they could make around $61,260 a year.
IT and computer science
Earning a degree in information technology or computer science is a no-brainer investment. The BLS expects employment of computer and information technology occupations to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026. Plus, the average annual wage for computer and information technology occupations is around $84,580.
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