Amazon is teaming up with education organizations Beyond 12 and Kaplan to bring even more features to its Career Choice program — one of company’s nine skills training programs.
Career Choice already offers pre-paid college tuition to its more than 750,000 hourly employees. With these new partnerships, employees will have access to career coaching, college advising and specialized career services free of cost. Through the expanded benefits program, employees will receive virtual one-on-one coaching to help them identify the academic programs that best fit their skills and long-term goals, as well as continuous support throughout their higher education experience.
Amazon noted that studies consistently show that expanding access to higher education is a proven way to create social and economic mobility for Americans. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, individuals with some college, but no degree earn 18% more than their peers with just a high school diploma, while those with a bachelor’s degree earn 62% more.
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However, numerous studies show that access to higher education is only the start, and that all too often students with the best intentions don’t finish their programs.
Harvard University studies found that fewer than 40% of community college students earn a certificate or degree within six years of enrollment, and completion rates are even lower for minorities, older students and part-time students. In fact, the Pell Institute found that only 9% of students with lower incomes earn a bachelor’s degree by their mid 20s, compared with 77% of their higher-earning peers, Amazon said.
That’s why Amazon is investing in programs to help employees get the guidance and coaching they need to be successful students. While financial constraints are undoubtedly a barrier for students, high quality academic advising and career coaching improves academic outcomes, especially for lower income or first generation postsecondary students.
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“While Career Choice has always been complemented by advisement services, feedback from participants has shown that more comprehensive and ongoing coaching would help employees choose programs better aligned to their career goals,” said Tammy Thieman, global director of Career Choice at Amazon.
“We want Amazon team members to successfully navigate the challenges of going to school while working and ultimately use their new skills to find incredible opportunities,” she said. “These partnerships with Beyond 12 and Kaplan are a game-changing enhancement to our program and the careers of Amazon’s employees.”
With these new partnerships, Amazon said it is envisioning an expansion of the Career Choice program — which has more than 80,000 total participants — that will encourage other employees to take the next step in skills training. Career Choice is designed to put employees on a path toward well-paying, in-demand professions with a coaching framework that empowers them along the way, according to the company.
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“Participating in Amazon’s Career Choice Coaching program has been a valuable experience,” said Cicero Vieira, an Amazon fulfillment center employee in Baltimore. “To know I have a personal coach I can rely on, build a rapport with and who is committed to helping me advance my career goals has been reassuring.”
Beyond 12 is a national technology-based nonprofit with a mission to improve the outcomes of students from under-resourced communities. The organization supplements live virtual coaching with a mobile app that guides students through activities, deadlines and behaviors that lead to success throughout their education.
“Eliminating the barrier of tuition is a tremendous benefit for Amazon employees, but postsecondary education completion gaps can’t be ignored,” said Alexandra Bernadotte, founder and CEO of Beyond 12. “Our coaching program helps identify and address the systemic and structural barriers students face before those challenges lead them to drop out. We’re pleased to partner with Amazon to go beyond getting students ‘into’ college and focus on getting students ‘through’ college.”
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Kaplan helps prepare students for higher education by offering test prep, including for license and certification exams, while also offering degree programs, English learning and pathway programs. Kaplan’s program with Amazon will connect employees to career services, such as networking, resume development, job interview preparation and online brand building services to enhance job placement.
“Kaplan is committed to helping people succeed, and this exciting new partnership with Amazon builds on our proud legacy of changing lives and building stronger futures,” said Greg Marino, CEO of Kaplan’s North America division. “We’re thrilled to be empowering so many thousands of hardworking employees at Amazon and look forward to being at their side until they’ve reached their educational and professional objectives.”