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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Amazon Taps National University to ‘Upskill’ Workforce

San Diego-based National University (NU) has been selected by Amazon to serve as a national provider for the company’s Career Choice program, which offers Amazon hourly employees full tuition at NU to learn new career skills.

Amazon announced March 3 that the company will pay its employees’ full tuition for more than 40 bachelor’s and associate degree programs offered by NU, the flagship institution of San Diego-based National University System, which comprises three universities serving more than 45,000 students.

Amazon says its Career Choice program is an education benefit designed to empower employees. The program meets individual learners where they are on their education journey, providing full college tuition, industry certifications designed to lead to in-demand jobs and foundational skills like English language proficiency, high school diplomas and GEDs.


More than $1B Investment by Amazon

Amazon is investing $1.2 billion to “upskill” hundreds of thousands of their U.S. employees by 2025 to help move the workers into higher-paying, in-demand jobs.

“We have a profound opportunity to provide working adults with educational experiences that help them excel in their current roles while building the skills and credentials they need to pursue their long-term career aspirations,” said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, chancellor of the National University System.


“This new collaboration with Amazon Career Choice will enable us to unlock the benefits of college access and completion for more working adults throughout the United States, creating pathways to long-term social and economic mobility,” Dr. Cunningham added.

In joining the Career Choice program, NU brings expertise in developing workforce-relevant degrees and credentials designed specifically for working adults.


NU will provide Amazon employees throughout the U.S. with online courses and some onsite classes at Amazon fulfillment centers, with tuition fully funded through the company’s assistance program.

“We’re looking forward to National University coming on board as an education partner for Career Choice, adding to the hundreds of best-in-class offerings available to our employees,” said Tammy Thiemann, global program lead of Amazon’s Career Choice program.


Empowering Employees

“We’re committed to empowering our employees by providing them access to the education and training they need to grow their careers, whether that’s with us or elsewhere,” Thiemann added. “Through our rigorous selection process, we have intentionally cultivated a partner network of third-party educators and employers committed to providing excellent education, job placement resources, and continuous improvements to the experience.”

The partnership announcement comes at a time when demand for employer-funded education benefits is growing rapidly among working-age adults.


A recent Amazon-Gallup ‘American Upskilling Study’ found that 70 percent of workers interested in upskilling say they would switch to a new job if offered free skills training.


Young adults entering the labor market rate employer-funded upskilling as more important than paid vacation time.

To help Amazon employees complete their degrees faster and make the programs as accessible as possible, National University will offer new start dates every month – and flexible courses designed to be completed in as little as four weeks.


All Students Paired with Advisor

Every student who enrolls in NU courses through Amazon Career Choice will be paired with an academic advisor throughout their educational experience.

Students will also receive career counseling and job placement services to help them prepare for opportunities in their industry or career of choice.

“Helping working adults achieve their professional aspirations has been the core of our university mission for more than 50 years,” said Randy C. Frisch, interim president of National University.


“As we continue to grow and serve that population at a substantially larger scale, this partnership is an example of how we can not only meet students’ needs in the short run, but — more importantly — create educational offerings that will sustain career and professional growth for years to come,” Frisch added.

This expansion of Amazon’s Career Choice program builds on the company’s ten years of supporting employees through education benefits and opportunities for upskilling. Since its launch in 2012, more than 50,000 Amazon employees have participated in the Career Choice program and the company has built more than 110 on-site classrooms for employees working in Amazon fulfillment centers across 37 states.

Commitment to Military Vets

Amazon and National University also share a commitment to serving military veterans and families. Approximately 30 percent of National University students are either active duty or retired service members. Amazon employs more than 40,000 U.S. military veterans and military spouses and recently announced plans to hire 100,000 more by 2024, many of whom will benefit from access to training and education opportunities offered by the Career Choice program.

“This initiative is incredibly well-aligned with our longtime focus of developing partnerships with employers to design programs that are tightly coupled with the needs of workers — and the workplace,” said Chris Graham, president of Workforce Education Solutions at the National University System. “Just as importantly, it’s also reflective of the essential role that employers themselves can play in expanding educational access, particularly at a time when the majority of new jobs being created require some type of postsecondary education or training.”

The National University System is a network of accredited nonprofit education institutions serving a diverse population of students including pre-K-12 as well as working professionals.


National University, a veteran-founded nonprofit, has been dedicated to meeting the needs of working adults by providing accessible, affordable, achievable higher education opportunities since 1971.


As San Diego’s largest private nonprofit university, NU offers over 75 online and on-campus programs and flexible four-week classes.

National University System

Founded: 2001

Chancellor: Dr. Michael R. Cunningham

Students: 45,000+

Headquarters: San Diego

Business: Education and vocational training


Notable: National University first started offering classes and educational training in 1971.


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