Over the past decade, approximately 2,700 Amazon New Jersey workers took advantage of the uniqueness of the company Career Choices Program — one in which the company pays for workers who want to advance their education, whether it’s completing a high school equivalency, a certificate program, or going to college.
This number is expected to grow exponentially.
Last week, Amazon announced a major expansion to the program — one in which employees will have more schools to choose from and one that will be much easier to access.
- Previously, employees had to work at Amazon for a year before being eligible. This time period was reduced to three months (or roughly the time between a person would graduate from high school and enter college);
- Previously, employees had to work full-time for Amazon. Now, part-timers are eligible, potentially employees working 20 hours a week or even less;
- Previously, Amazon paid up to 95% of tuition. Now he will pay for it all;
- And, previously, there was a shortlist of eligible institutions. There are now six community colleges and two four-year institutions (Rowan University and Rutgers University – Newark).
The impact could be huge. With 19 fulfillment centers and nearly two dozen delivery stations, Amazon now employs about 58,000 people in the state, making it New Jersey’s largest employer.
And, while the program is certainly part of a recruiting and attraction practice for the company, Colin Newman, Amazon’s director of public policy for New Jersey, said expanding the program is another. way for Amazon to impact the lives of its employees.
Newman said it’s part of Amazon’s Upskilling 2025 commitment — a $1.2 billion commitment to upskill more than 300,000 Amazon employees by 2025.
“Giving our frontline employees educational resources and opportunities like this is exactly what we mean when we say we strive to be the best employer on Earth,” he said.
“Amazon is very proud to partner with community colleges in New Jersey, Rowan, and Rutgers-Newark to help cover the costs of higher education, continuing education, and more. And that’s just the beginning. We look forward to partnering with other Garden State schools in the months ahead.”
The following schools are now involved in the program:
They are part of about 140 universities nationwide – so a Jersey resident could go out of state to attend school and potentially take advantage of the program.
For Amazon, the efforts are not limited to a check. Amazon officials said there is a system in place that ensures employees are set up to succeed, ensuring that extra support both at school — and in future job placement — is there.
The school’s proximity to an Amazon site is also a factor, but it is not a factor that would automatically eliminate a school interested in participating.
Those who participate in the program are under no obligation to continue working at Amazon, company officials said.
Amazon officials said it’s about improving their employees — which is why the program includes more than traditional colleges.
New Jersey frontline employees can also take courses offered by new national nonprofit education providers, including Southern New Hampshire University, Colorado State University – Global, Western Governors University and National University.
Amazon officials said the company is also partnering with GEDWorks and Smart Horizons to provide high school completion and GED preparation, Voxy EnGen and goFLUENT to provide English language training, and Outlier to provide language courses. college prep – all for free.
Aaron Fichtner, president of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, said the program could have a huge impact.
“Community colleges in New Jersey are excited to partner with Amazon to help their employees learn new skills and earn degrees and diplomas relevant to the state’s economy,” he said.
“Community colleges in New Jersey are deeply rooted in their local communities and will provide Amazon employees with a high-quality foundation that will prepare them for continued education and successful careers in a wide variety of fields.”
Jefferey Hand, senior vice president of strategic enrollment management at Rowan, agrees.
“We at Rowan University are excited about the limitless potential the Amazon Career Choice program offers its employees for higher education,” he said. “The partnership between Amazon and Rowan University represents the next evolution in providing affordable educational opportunities and providing new degree paths for Amazon employees.
“We look forward to serving the Amazon community with a variety of curriculum designed and delivered in formats tailored to the needs of adult learners.”
State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Moorestown), whose district represents 17 cities in Burlington County, called the announcement a win-win.
“Amazon will undoubtedly benefit from a well-educated workforce, and employees will no longer face financial barriers to higher education,” he said. “This is especially meaningful for Burlington County, where many of our residents work at Amazon, and our local community college, RCBC, has been selected as one of their educational partners.”
Amazon officials said they are working to increase the number of institutions participating in the program in the future.
Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers-Newark, said it made sense for more schools to join. She sees his huge potential.
“Newark and our area is brimming with diverse talent, and the key to cultivating that talent is creating opportunity,” she said. “That’s what Rutgers-Newark has always been and that’s why we’re thrilled to be part of the coalition of New Jersey colleges and universities partnering with Amazon through their Career Choice program. It’s creating opportunities by making a college education not only accessible, but affordable.
Learn more about Amazon’s Upskilling 2025 Pledge at: aboutamazon.com/upskilling2025.