- Amazon will add career and academic support services by educational organization Kaplan and nonprofit Beyond 12 to its Career Choice upskilling program — including virtual one-on-one coaching for all Career Choice participants — the company announced in an Aug. 2 blog post.
- Beyond 12 will provide the virtual coaching aspect of the expansion in addition to a mobile app, MyCoach, which “uses evidence-based nudges to remind students of the activities, deadlines, and behaviors that lead to success,” the company said in a separate statement.
- Amazon said Kaplan’s capabilities would help Career Choice participants identify programs that best fit their interests, skills and long-term goals while also providing general support, networking, resume development, job interview preparation and online brand building, among other resources.
After launching Career Choice more than a decade ago, Amazon has expanded the program to encompass a wider range of offerings for its hourly employees. Earlier this year, the company announced that participants would be eligible to receive a fully funded college education through a network of national and local institutions. The move was cited by LinkedIn when the social media platform ranked Amazon the top U.S. company for workers to grow their careers.
Career Choice is not without its critics, however. In 2021, media outlet Protocol quoted higher education policy experts who said Amazon employees may lack the time necessary to complete a degree program, while others noted the limited selection of subject areas available to participants.
"While Career Choice has always been complemented by advisement services, feedback from participants has shown that more comprehensive and ongoing coaching would help employees choose programs better aligned to their career goals,” Tammy Thieman, global director for Career Choice, said in Amazon’s blog post. “We want Amazon team members to successfully navigate the challenges of going to school while working and ultimately use their new skills to find incredible opportunities.”
Amazon is competing with education benefits offered by its rival companies in retail and elsewhere. Companies like Walmart and Target both expanded their college degree programs in 2021 with the aim of easing the financial impact that college debt may have on workers.
Prior to the pandemic, most U.S. employers offered some form of educational benefit, according to a 2019 survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, though some cited barriers such as cost and complex implementation.