Amazon has offered to pay for college tuition for 750,000 of its frontline workers, the latest move by a major US corporation to offer perks to attract and retain employees in the face of a labor shortage. 

The company, which is investing $1.2 billion (£0.86 billion) in the scheme by 2025, said it would pay for college tuition and textbooks for US hourly employees after 90 days of employment for as long as they stayed at Amazon. 

It will also begin to cover the costs of other types of education jobs, such as high school diplomas and English-language courses, and provide on-the-job career training to 300,000 people. 

“Amazon is now the largest job creator in the US,” said Dave Clark, the chief executive of the worldwide consumer at Amazon, in a blog post. “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. 

Amazon is the latest major US corporation to provide education-related benefits to employees, following similar moves by Walmart, Target, and Kroger. Walmart announced last month that it would cover the costs of tuition and books for its hourly employees, with approximately 1.5 million employees eligible. Target has announced that it will provide free undergraduate degrees to more than 340,000 employees in the United States. 

According to the US Department of Labor, job vacancies reached a record high of 10.9 million in July, outnumbering more than 2 million unemployed people. Earlier this month, a McDonald’s branch in the United States encouraged 14- and 15-year-olds to apply for jobs to fill a fast-food chain worker shortage. 

In May, Amazon said it would hire 750,000 workers across its warehouse and delivery network in the US and Canada. The company hired about 500,000 staff last year. 

“Today, there are not enough workers to fill every job in the United States, which means businesses are struggling to hire, especially for roles that require specific or technical skill sets,” said Cheryl Oldham, a senior vice-president at the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. 

“When large employers like Amazon commit to investing in their people through upskilling programs, it helps to ensure that the business community has access to a workforce pipeline that meets their needs today and in the future.” 

Source:  The Guardian