Amazon is to offer fully paid college tuition to more than 750,000 of its operations staff, in positions such as delivery and fulfilment, as it seeks to lure employees amidst a labour shortage.
As of January the company said it would offer to pre-pay college tuition, including the cost of classes, books and fees, to all hourly staff who have been with the firm for 90 days.
Staff can continue to participate in the programme for as long as they remain with the company, Amazon said.
The programme covers associate and bachelor’s degrees with “hundreds of education partners” around the US, Amazon said, without specifying the institutions.
It also is to be expanded to cover high school completion, GEDs and English language courses.
The firm is also adding three new skills training programmes for frontline employees aimed at preparing them for jobs as data centre technicians, IT engineers and user-experience designers, all funded by the company.
“Amazon is now the largest job creator in the US, and we know that investing in free skills training for our teams can have a huge impact for hundreds of thousands of families across the country,” said Dave Clark, chief executive of worldwide consumer at Amazon, in a statement.
The company said it expects to invest a total of $1.2 billion (£870m) in the training programmes and to provide free skills training to 300,000 employees by 2025.
More than 50,000 staff have participated in the programme, launched about 10 years ago, he said.
The company is building more than 110 on-site classrooms for training in Amazon warehouses in 37 states.
Amazon is one of the US’ biggest employers, with about 1.3 million staff, after a hiring some 500,000 employees last year due to a pandemic-fuelled surge in demand. That figure is still far lower than Walmart, which employs about 2.2 million.
Walmart, Target and Kroger have all launched education programmes in recent weeks as they struggle to fill staffing positions.
Last month Walmart said it would pay the costs of tuition and books for its hourly staff, with about 1.5 million eligible. Target said it would offer free undergraduate degrees for more than 340,000 staff in the US.
The US Department of Labour said job vacancies hit a record high of 10.9 million in July, more than 2 million more than the number of unemployed people.
In May Amazon said it was looking to hire 75,000 staff in warehouse and delivery positions in the US and Canada.
Earlier this month the company also said it was looking to hire a further 55,000 staff in corporate and technology roles in the coming months.
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