Amazon To Pay Employees’ Full College Tuition In Latest Attempt To Attract More Workers

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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Amazon will begin paying college tuition for hundreds of thousands of its employees in an effort to attract more workers, the company said Thursday.

More than 750,000 hourly Amazon employees nationwide will be eligible to have their full college tuition paid for at one of hundreds of partner universities, according to the announcement. The billion-dollar online retailer said it would also pay for employees’ associate degrees and high school tuition.

“Amazon is now the largest job creator in the U.S., 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,” Dave Clark, CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon, said in a statement. “This new investment builds on years of experience supporting employees in growing their careers.”

Amazon said all tuition would be paid in advance to ensure employees don’t need any existing savings to enroll in the program. (RELATED: Expanded Unemployment Benefits Hindered Main Street Recovery, Small Business Owners Say)

The program will be available to all Amazon front-line employees 90 days after they start working with the company. They must remain with Amazon while enrolled in the program.

Amazon didn’t say if it would only fund certain business-related or technical degree programs.

An aerial photo shows construction on an Amazon warehouse on Aug. 20 in Syosset, New York. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

An aerial photo shows construction on an Amazon warehouse on Aug. 20 in Syosset, New York. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Amazon will pay 50% of college tuition for its part-time workers, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Career progression is the new minimum wage,” Amazon Vice President of Workforce Development Ardine Williams told the WSJ. “Most adult learners don’t have the luxury of quitting their jobs and going to school full-time.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Senior Vice President Cheryl Oldham noted that the program would give Amazon a hiring advantage as companies across all sectors continue to struggle to find workers.

“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,” Oldham said in a statement. “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.”

There were roughly 10.9 million job vacancies as of the end of July, according to the Labor Department data released Wednesday. Roughly 1.3 million of the openings were in the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which includes retail trade and warehousing positions.

Amazon’s initiative is slated to begin in January 2022, according to the announcement. The Wall Street Journal first reported the program on Thursday.

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