Amazon’s hourly employees in the Valley can receive fully funded tuition for classes as the result of a partnership between the online retail giant and the Maricopa County Community College District.
The offer comes as part of the newly announced expansion of Amazon’s Career Choice network in which the company has agreements with more than 140 colleges and universities across the country to pay for workers’ tuition.
The program is seen as an employee benefit and could be a strong employee recruitment tool for Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN).
It’s also another step in a partnership between MCCCD and Amazon that dates back to 2014.
“As a long-standing partner of Amazon and the Career Choice program, we are excited to see this program expand to make more educational pathways accessible to Amazon associates” MCCCD Interim Chancellor Steven Gonzales said in a statement. “Employers like Amazon making an investment in their employees’ education is a critical component of driving educational attainment in our state.”
Since the partnership began, MCCCD has offered more than 20 training cohorts to Amazon workers in study areas including accounting, computer support and HVAC service. The employees take classes online, in person at one of the 10 MCCCD campuses or at Amazon sites that have Career Choice classrooms available for employees to study remotely.
Amazon employs thousands in the Phoenix metro at multiple sites across the Valley.
Amazon launched Career Choice in 2012, and more than 50,000 employees have taken advantage of it in the past decade, according to the company. Amazon now has committed to fund $1.2 billion to expand the program with partner schools over the next four years, which should serve 300,000 employees.
Amazon spokeswoman Natalie Wolfrom said employees do not make any commitment to stay with Amazon to be able to get the funding. Employees need to have worked for Amazon for at least 90 days before they are eligible for the tuition funding.
Amazon pays 100% tuition for its full-time employees and 50% of tuition costs for its part-time hourly staff. Employees can pick any courses or major they want, Wolfrom said.
The company chose the schools that had the capacity and flexible schedules, she said.
Amazon’s Career Choice also funds high school completion; General Education Development, or GED; and English as a second language, or ESL, proficiency certifications.
Career Choice is one of nine free skills training and education programs for Amazon employees offered as part of the company’s Upskilling 2025 pledge.
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