Amazon offers to pay $1.2bn college fees for 750,000 US staff
Amazon, a multinational e-commerce conglomerate, has offered to cover the cost of college tuition of all 750,000 of its frontline workers in the United States of America (USA).
There would also be on-the-job career training for 300,000 workers.
The company made this known through a blog post on Thursday, September 9, noting that the move is to “expand the education and skills training benefits it offers to its US employees with a total investment of $1.2 billion by 2025” for the next four years.
The offer would cover the cost of classes, books, and fees for college workers and high school diplomas, General Educational Development (GEDs), and English as a Second Language (ESL) proficiency certifications.
This is coming at a time that the online shopping giant and other companies are faced with challenges in attracting and retaining staff amid a global industry labour shortage, largely due to the Covid-19.
The firm said it would invest in the scheme, with workers able to access the annual funding for as long as they remain at Amazon, including workers who have been with the work for only three months.
Touching on the rationale for the investment, the Head of Worldwide Consumer at the company, Dave Clark, said, “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.”
“This new investment builds on years of experience supporting employees in growing their careers, including some unique initiatives like building more than 110 on-site classrooms for our employees in Amazon fulfilment centres across 37 states,” he added.
Two years ago, Amazon announced ‘Upskilling 2025’, a $700 million commitment to train 100,000 US employees by 2025 to help them transition into in-demand, higher-paying jobs.
Since the launch of upskilling 2025 in 2019, more than 70,000 employees have participated in one of Amazon’s nine upskilling programmes.
US companies offer incentives to woo employees
Meanwhile, amid the global labour crisis, US firms are offering a range of benefits and incentives to lure employees back to the workforce as restrictions ease.
According to the US Labour Department, job openings hit a fresh record high of 10.9 million in July, surpassing the number of unemployed people by more than two million.
According to experts, a mixture of people leaving the workforce during the pandemic, lingering concerns about Covid-19 and a lack of childcare have prolonged the shortage.
Last month, Walmart said it would pay the costs of tuition and books for its hourly staffers, with about 1.5 million people eligible, and also offer free undergraduate degrees to more than 340,000 employees at its US stores.
Some firms have also raised starting wages or offered bonuses to win workers, with some even urging 14 and 15 year-olds to apply to tackle the shortage.