Amazon Goes on Hiring Spree, Offers Free College

The company follows other retailers’ attempts to lure employees in a tight labor market.

September 14, 2021

Amazon Delivery

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Amazon today announced plans to hire 125,000 employees in fulfillment and transportation jobs across the United States, with an average starting wage of more than $18 per hour—and as much as $22.50 per hour in some locations.

Hiring for the new roles is already underway, and sign-on bonuses of up to $3,000 are available in select locations, Amazon said. The company has opened more than 250 fulfillment centers, sortation centers, regional air hubs and delivery stations in the U.S. so far this year and plans to open more than 100 buildings in September alone.

Starting with their first day on the job, full-time Amazon employees qualify for comprehensive benefits including health, vision and dental insurance, 401(k) with 50% company match, up to 20 weeks paid parental leave, and Amazon's new Career Choice program, in which the company will pay full college tuition for its front-line employees as part of a $1.2 billion investment to expand education and skills training for its U.S. workforce.

Most of Amazon’s 750,000 hourly workers are now eligible to have 100% of their college tuition paid for by the company, including books and fees, reports CNN and CNBC. Employees must be working for Amazon for at least 90 days to be eligible for the benefit, and they have to work part time or full time while attending college.

The benefit applies to four-year degrees, two-year degrees, high school diploma programs, GEDs and English as a second language certifications. Previously, Amazon paid for 95% of tuition, fees and textbooks for hourly associates through its career choice program.

The move comes as companies are struggling to fill job positions in a tight labor market, and the competitive labor market is leading to higher costs for the Amazon customer, according to Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky. The company is offering signing bonuses of up to $3,000 in some parts of the U.S. to entice workers.

Amazon’s college reimbursement follows the same incentive Walmart introduced in July and Target in August. Walmart will pay for 100% of college tuition and books for associates through its Live Better U education program, an investment of $1 billion over the next five years. The incentive is available to about 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates in the U.S.

For retailers across all industries, both compensation and benefits, such as education investments, can lead to increased job applicants. NACS works with the nonprofit Good Jobs Institute to help convenience retailers assess how good jobs could help them reduce costs, increase revenue and improve labor productivity.

Register to attend the 2021 NACS Show October 5-8, at McCormick Place in Chicago and take advantage of the education sessions on human resources, including these sessions developed by retailers for retailers: 

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