- In a letter to shareholders, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos said that the company pays up to $12,000 for workers to earn certificates and associate degrees in high-demand occupations, even if the skills earned aren't relevant to a career at the company.
- For hourly associates with more than one year of tenure, Amazon pre-pays 95% of tuition, fees and textbooks up to $12,000 for workers to study fields like aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technologies, medical lab technologies and nursing.
- "We fund education in areas that are in high demand and do so regardless of whether those skills are relevant to a career at Amazon," Bezos said. The program is available in 10 countries and is expanding to South Africa, Costa Rica and Slovakia later this year. Commercial truck driving, healthcare, and information technology are the program’s most popular fields of study, he said.
Amazon joins other major companies in offering education benefits to employees, non-employees, and even relatives of staff members — without worrying about whether they'll ultimately remain at or work for the company.
Traditionally, tuition reimbursement benefits were reserved for those pursing degrees that could benefit the employer. But in a tight labor market, employers are banking on the benefits as a recruiting and engagement strategy, and they're finding some success.
Amazon takes a good amount of heat for its employment practices, but it also doesn't shy away from unusual benefits and workforce solutions. For example, it was revealed earlier this year that the company pays less-than-happy workers to quit, offering hourly workers at its customer-service centers and warehouses up to $5,000 once a year, depending on how long they've been on staff.