Amazon announced today a commitment of $1.2 billion through 2025 aimed at providing access to education and skills training for its U.S. workforce, including offering full college tuition for its more than 750,000 operations employees.

Amazon’s new initiative builds upon its Amazon Career Choice platform, its existing program designed to upskill employees for future career opportunities. Through the career choice program, the company will now offer funding for college tuition at hundreds of Amazon’s education partners through the U.S., as well as high school diplomas, GEDs, and English as a Second Language (ESL) proficiency certifications for front-line employees.

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In order to help remove barriers to accessing education, Amazon will pay employees’ tuition and fees in advance rather than offering reimbursement after coursework completion. Employees will be eligible to participate in the program three months after starting with the company, making the program available to the 400,000 workers who joined the company since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dave Clark, CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon, said:

“We launched Career Choice almost ten years ago to help remove the biggest barriers to continuing education—time and money—and we are now expanding it even further to pay full tuition and add several new fields of study.”

In addition to expanding the Career Choice program, Amazon also announced the launch of three new tuition-free upskilling programs. These include AWS Grow Our Own Talent, offering on-the-job training and job placement opportunities for employees and entry-level candidates with nontraditional backgrounds, helping them pursue roles within Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers; Surge2IT, helping entry-level IT employees pursue careers in higher-paying technical roles through self-paced learning resources, and; The User Experience Design and Research Apprenticeship, offering employees the opportunity to learn and develop skills in research and design on teams across Amazon, including Prime Video, Alexa, AWS, and Amazon Fashion.

According to Amazon, the new programs are being launched amidst a surge in applications to participate in the company’s existing education programs since the start of the pandemic, reflecting increased interest from employees to fortify their skillsets.

Clark said:

“Amazon is now the largest job creator in the U.S., and we know that investing in free skills training for our teams can have a huge impact for hundreds of thousands of families across the country.”