August 1 2012
Amazon’s New Career Choice Program
Vicki E. Alger
College costs are soaring, and federal programs are more likely to chase those costs than keep them down. But one company’s actually doing something that puts its money where its mouth is. As Yahoo finance reports:
Amazon.com (AMZN) today announced the Amazon Career Choice Program, an innovative new program designed to expand the choices available to its employees in their future careers, whether at Amazon or in another industry…. “At Amazon, we like to pioneer, we like to invent, and we're not willing to do things the normal way if we can figure out a better way,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, in a letter posted on the front page of Amazon. “It can be difficult in this economy to have the flexibility and financial resources to teach yourself new skills. So, for people who've been with us as little as three years, we're offering to pre-pay 95% of the cost of courses such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technologies, medical lab technologies, nursing, and many other fields.”
The program is unusual because unlike traditional tuition reimbursement programs, Amazon will exclusively fund education only in areas that are well-paying and in high demand according to sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the company will fund those areas regardless of whether those skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.
Investing in human capital makes sense. Those who invest voluntarily in the education of others are right to have a say in how their money’s spent. Such investing also promotes good stewardship among beneficiaries in terms of degree program, timely completion, and choosing institutions that offer both at a reasonable price.
While Amazon is not requiring participants return to work for them, they’d be right to require that if they wished. (Although on its face an employer willing to support one’s education seems like an employer worth working for.)
Other businesses and non-profit organizations could do the same to help students pursue degrees in subjects and fields they believe is important. At a time when the federal government’s control of education is growing, here’s another example of innovation from the private sector.