Learning & Development

Amazon Trains Employees for Non-Amazon Jobs

We talk a lot about the importance of training employees how to do their jobs so they can learn and grow and have successful careers at your organization. The time and money you spend training those employees are an investment in the future of your company.


ihorzigor / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Novel Approach

As Abigail Hess writes for CNBC, online retailing giant Amazon has recently taken an interesting new approach to the traditional employee training paradigm it is calling Career Choice. As the name suggests, Career Choice is about training employees to potentially seek jobs outside of Amazon.
This is explicitly acknowledged by Amazon on its website: “This program is peculiar (just like we are). In fact, it’s safe to say you won’t find anything quite like it anywhere else. We exclusively fund education only in areas that are in high demand according to sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and we fund those areas regardless of whether those skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.”
“Amazon will pay for 95 percent of tuition, fees and textbooks — up to $12,000 over four years — for hourly associates with one year of tenure to earn ‘certificates and associate degrees in high-demand occupations such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technologies, medical lab technologies and nursing,’” writes Hess.
According to a letter from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, over 16,000 Amazon associates have taken advantage of the Career Choice program in over 10 countries.

Method Behind the Apparent Madness

Amazon’s training program isn’t necessarily an altruistic attempt to boost the career prospect of employees regardless of their long-term plans with Amazon. The program is seen as a draw for Amazon’s lower-paid employees, such as warehouse workers, who often demonstrate high turnover.
Amazon recognizes that these workers are not likely to remain employed with the company forever, so rather than pretend otherwise, it is offering training for these employees’ next opportunity as a way to get the best work out of them for the limited time they get their paycheck from Amazon.
It’s an approach that other companies may want to consider.