“Well here's a new one”…That’s how the reporter from tech news site Recode introduced the topic while live-blogging a conversation with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at last week’s Code 2016 conference.
If you missed it, that live blog can be found here. Or, watch the video yourself, and skip ahead to about the 34-minute mark.
Or if you're short on time, I can sum it up for you like this: we want to share with other companies the lessons we have learned over the past four years running a program for Amazon employees that we call Career Choice.
We’re open-sourcing the program, which means we want to give away for free the blueprint for putting a program like this in place; and we’re eager for others to build upon it, tailor it for their own use cases, and improve upon it.
What’s Career Choice, you ask? It’s Amazon's peculiar take on a tuition-assistance program through which we pre-pay 95 percent of tuition and fees for courses that teach skills to prepare folks for in-demand job fields, regardless of whether those skills are relevant to a career at Amazon. We target the program at Amazon’s hourly workforce – folks for whom a door like this might otherwise be difficult to open. The thinking is this: if we can help someone fulfill their dream to become a nurse or an airplane mechanic, and while doing so make their time at Amazon positive and valuable, then we ought to jump at that opportunity.
So far, more than 6,000 Amazonians have participated in Career Choice, stepping onto career paths that could change their lives.
If your company is interested in putting something like Career Choice in place, email my team directly at CareerChoice@amazon.com. We’d love to share with you what we’ve learned and how to do something like it for your employees.