Why are Amazon training their staff to work elsewhere?

by L&D25 Jul 2016
The Career Choice Program is “peculiar (just like we are)”, according to Amazon.

In fact, it's safe to say there is nothing quite like it anywhere else, they claim on their website.

Amazon said they recognise that their staff (known as “Amazonians”) want to pursue their aspirations, but it can be difficult to have the flexibility and financial resources to teach yourself new skills.

The company currently has more than 240,000 employees, lots of whom are warehouse workers.

There is also an anxiety among certain employees that their jobs could be replaced by robots at some point in the future.

After associates have been employed at Amazon for as little as one continuous year, the program involves the company pre-paying up to 95% (or $12,000) worth of the tuition to train them for another type of career.

The program is in its fourth year and has workers pursuing degrees which include game design and visual communications, nursing, and radiology.

In other words, employees are being trained in skills regardless of whether they a relevant to a career at Amazon.

Since Amazon launched the program in July, 2012, they have reduced associate commuting times by bringing college and vocational courses onsite. More than 7,000 hourly employees in 10 countries have participated in the program so far.

They’ve built onsite classrooms so college and technical classes can be taught inside their fulfillment centers. The idea is to make associates' participation in Career Choice “even more seamless”.

Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations for Amazon, said they’re energised by the “interest and enthusiasm in Career Choice that we’ve seen from our employees”.

“Through Career Choice our employees are becoming nurses, pharmacy technicians, accountants, and commercial drivers – all high-demand fields and many that provide a great service to the community, said Clarke.

“We’re very proud of our employees who are taking advantage of the opportunity and look forward to seeing many more step forward in the years to come.”

The program will also pay up to $3,000 per year in tuition, textbooks and associated fees for up to four years.

The most popular course taken by Amazonians is Commercial Driver Training. As part of their learning, Amazon employees have collectively driven semi-trailer trucks more than 15 million miles in the first months of their new careers - the equivalent of traveling around the world 600 times.

Amazon associates have taken classes at nearly 1,500 different educational institutions since the program began.

The classes chosen by Amazon are those which are in high demand based on facts from the U.S. government and other sources.

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