Amazon has augmented its employee perquisite Career Choice Program with an onsite classroom at one of its Phoenix fulfillment centers. The program, launched in 2012, enables full-time, hourly employees to pursue their interest in furthering their career. It is designed to provide resources for building skills needed for today’s most in-demand and well-paying careers, per annually updated data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, explains Amazon spokesperson Ashley Robinson. Fields may be in transportation logistics, accounting, engineering or others that could help the employee advance within the company, but employees are not limited to such choices. Healthcare-related courses in nursing and pharmaceutical are also popular, according to Robinson. “Jeff Bezos [Amazon.com CEO] decided it was important; it was the right thing to do,” she says, adding that, even though employees may ultimately choose to leave the company, “it’s a great way for us to draw the talent that helps us serve our customers.”
The new, dedicated Career Choice Classroom has one full wall of window, and Robinson says the visibility has made a huge difference to the program. “People see other associates taking classes and learning from each other, doing study groups together, and therefore there’s more interest in the program,” she says.
“Everyone’s bought into it and are supportive of it,” Robinson says, sharing that managers are flexible in accommodating class times in employees’ work schedule.
The onsite program launched in 2014, and the dedicated classroom opened earlier this year, in May. As the first one completed, the Phoenix classroom provided a template for the seven other classrooms Amazon has opened in fulfillment centers throughout the United States, which includes developing the program as well as the physical space. “Our partnership with Maricopa Corporate Community College is the backbone of the program,” Robinson says, noting the importance of having educators onsite who talk with the associates about how to pursue continuing education, who set up recruitment fairs, and who provide guidance regarding what classes to offer the next semester.