Amazon to spend $1.2B to pay college tuition and expand skills training for operations workers

An Amazon Fulfillment Center in Dupont, Wash. (GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Amazon is increasing its investment in the education and training of its front-line operations workers, announcing Thursday that it will spend $1.2 billion by 2025 to cover full college tuition costs and more for workers.

Starting in January, as part of the tech giant’s Career Choice program, employees who have been at the company for three months will be eligible to have their education paid for at hundreds of institutions across the country. Amazon said more than 750,000 employees who work in fulfillment centers and other operations roles will be eligible, including 400,000 who joined the company since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The education benefit will also cover high school diplomas, GEDs, and English as a Second Language (ESL) proficiency certifications.

Employees’ tuition and fees will be paid by Amazon in advance rather than through reimbursement after coursework completion, and access continues for as long as an employee remains with the company, with no limit to the number of years the worker can benefit.

In addition to the education investment, Amazon also announced that it is adding three new upskilling programs. Employees will have the opportunity to learn data center maintenance and technology, IT, and user experience and research design.

That effort is part of Amazon’s $700 million Upskilling 2025 commitment to train 100,000 U.S. employees for the transition into high-demand, higher-paying jobs. Amazon is tripling the commitment to 300,000 employees.

The company says it has seen a surge in demand for programs that teach software engineering, technical skills for military veterans and their spouses, cloud computing, machine learning and robotics.

Amazon’s investment in educating its employees comes as the company releases the findings of an Amazon-Gallup study on upskilling which shows how access to skills training can lead to greater career choice and increased pay.

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