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The e-commerce giant is following the lead of other large U.S. companies who are dangling perks like education benefits or more pay to woo workers in a tight job market.
Starting in January 2022, Amazon said it will cover the cost of college tuition, fees and textbooks for hourly employees in its operations network after 90 days of employment. It will also begin covering high school diploma programs, GEDs and English as a second language certifications for employees. Operations workers include employees in Amazon’s sprawling network of warehouses and distribution centers.
The benefit will apply to hundreds of education institutions across the country, Amazon said. Amazon previously offered to pay for 95% of tuition, fees and textbooks for hourly associates through its career choice program.
Rival retailers, including Walmart and Target, have also beefed up their education benefits in recent months. Target in August rolled out a program that covers the cost of associate and undergraduate degrees at select schools. Walmart in July said it would pay 100% of college tuition and books costs for associates of Walmart and Sam’s Club.
As the job market has grown more competitive, Amazon is ramping up incentives to lure workers. In some areas of the country, Amazon is offering sign-on bonuses for new employees worth up to $3,000.
Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky told analysts and investors following the company’s second-quarter earnings report in July that the competitive labor market is leading to higher costs.
“We’re spending a lot of money on signing and incentives, and while we have very good staffing levels, it’s not without a cost,” Olsavsky said. “It’s a very competitive labor market out there.”
Amazon has been on a hiring spree since the start of the pandemic, bringing on 500,000 employees in 2020.
In May, Amazon said it’s hiring 750,000 workers across its warehouse and delivery network in the U.S. and Canada. The jobs offer a starting wage of $17 per hour, reflecting recent wage increases, which bumped up pay by between 50 cents and $3 an hour for more than half a million of its U.S. operations employees.