Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is very proud, in fact he is 'particularly proud' of a unique benefit that the company provides to its employees: the chance to go back to school and learn some in-demand skills for the workplace.
With, Amazon Career Choice, Amazon pre-pays 95 percent of up to $12,000 in tuition, fees, and textbooks for its hourly associates looking to earn certificates or associate degrees in high-demand occupations such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technologies, medical lab technologies, and nursing.
Bezos noted this program as a point of pride in his closely watched annual letter to shareholders, released on Wednesday, where he wrote that the company funds education in the areas regardless of whether they are related to the employee's current operations.
Training and educating workers, particular those who are not full-time, has become a key topic and area of investment for major corporations.
Disney recently announced an $50 million education initiative that will be available to the company's 88,000 hourly employees. The company cited the 2018 tax reform bill as motivation for the initiative and said that participants in their program can pursue "qualifying higher education or vocational training" that are outside the scope of their current responsibility.
AT&T is retraining hundreds of thousands of workers as part of a $1 billion investment to prepare them for the future.
Education technology company Coursera announced a partnership this year with Alphabet's Google to train IT professionals, with Google granting 10,000 scholarships to Coursera's online program to help meet the growing demand for tech support specialists.
A focus from Amazon on educating lower-level employees is not too surprising when considering this salary tidbit: the median worker compensation at Amazon is a little over $28,000, according to a Bloomberg report.
Amazon's Career Choice, which launched in 2012 and is live in 10 countries, will expand to South Africa, Costa Rica, and Slovakia later this year. More than 16,000 associates have joined since its inception with roughly three-fourths of the employees residing in the U.S. Commercial truck driving, health care, and information technology are the program's most popular fields of study, Bezos noted in the letter.
There are already 39 Career Choice classrooms within Amazon facilities and Bezos wants to create even more demand within the company for ongoing education. The tech mogul has located the classrooms behind glass walls in high traffic areas so workers can "be inspired by seeing their peers pursue new skills."
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