Amazon's chief financial officer said this summer that to keep staffing up during the pandemic, "We're spending a lot of money on signing and incentives." The cost of staying hired up will be going up, after Amazon announced Thursday that it will pay the full cost of four-year college tuition for its hourly workers, CNBC reports. The offer applies to about 750,000 US employees. Target and Walmart have improved their educational assistance recently, as well, as they try to attract employees. "It's a very competitive labor market out there," the Amazon executive said.
The rules released so far cover:
- Eligibility. Once they've worked for Amazon for three months, hourly employees in its operations network can tap the benefit. Operations employees include those in Amazon warehouses and distribution centers—the people who pack the boxes. Whole Foods employees are left out, per CNN.
- The launch. The program will begin in January, per the AP. Workers can remain in it as long as they work full time or part time for the company.
- What's paid. Tuition, fees, and textbooks are fully covered. So are programs for workers wanting to attain high school diplomas, GEDs, and English as a second language certifications.
- The colleges. Hundreds of schools across the country will be part of the program, but the company said it's still compiling the list.
Amazon has an education program, but it doesn't cover bachelor's degrees. Also on Thursday, Amazon said it will train some 300,000 employees for higher-skilled jobs in the company, keeping a promise made in 2019. Amazon said in May that it plans to hire 750,000 warehouse and delivery network workers in the US and Canada. "Career progression is the new minimum wage," a workforce development executive at Amazon told the Wall Street Journal. "Most adult learners don’t have the luxury of quitting their jobs and going to school full-time." (Read more Amazon stories.)