Amazon Employees Get Free Classes at MJC, Stanislaus State CA

Amazon is partnering with Stanislaus County’s top colleges to offer free classes to the online retailer’s hourly employees in the area.

California State University at Turlock, Stanislaus and Modesto Junior College are both part of the company’s Career Choice program, which will pay full tuition at associated institutions for hourly Amazon employees. In the Central Valley, Amazon also partners with California State University Fresno, Clovis Community College, and Sacramento City College.

The program is open to full-time Amazon employees as well as part-time employees (who receive half, but not all, of the tuition). The e-commerce giant will pay tuition and fees for eligible employees, and partner institutions pay nothing to be part of the program.

Between regional fulfillment and fulfillment centers, there are some 21,000 eligible employees who could receive full or partial tuition, Amazon spokeswoman Natalie Wolfrom said.

To be eligible for the program, Amazon employees must be Level 1 Associates at one of the company’s warehouses. This includes line workers, package sorters, pickers and more. Employees must be with the company for 90 days before they can apply for the Career Choices program.

In addition to paying for associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs, the program also has funds for high school completion, GED and ESL courses, and other industry certification programs.

Stanislaus State Dean for Extended and International Education Kari Knutson Miller said partnering with Amazon for the program was a “really good fit” due to the number of potentially eligible employees in the area and of the imminent completion of the new one million square foot distribution center. at Turlock.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to provide an educational experience in Stanislaus State for Amazon employees and appreciate Amazon’s dedication to the communities where Amazon employees reside,” he said. she stated. “It aligns with our mission and commitment to serving adult learners and working professionals.”

Amazon is currently constructing the new fulfillment center on Fulkerth Road, just west of Highway 99 in the Turlock Regional Industrial Park. The site is expected to be completed by mid-2022 and have some 1,000 employees.

Amazon fulfillment centers dot the valley landscape, popping up near major highways and freeways for easy access, including Patterson, Manteca, Tracy, and Stockton. Centers in the region vary in size, from the largest in Stockton with about 4,000 employees to smaller sites with about 1,000 to 1,200 workers, said Nicole Bilich, Amazon’s human resources manager in Northern California.

The Manteca, Tracy and Patterson centers combined have more than 8,000 employees, with another 6,000 Amazon workers in the Stockton area and 7,000 in the Sacramento area, Wolfrom said.

The company is also trying to accommodate Career Choice program employees with flexible scheduling options so they can take classes and keep working, she said.

“One of our guiding principles is really to develop our associates. We really want to make sure that we provide every opportunity for associates to learn more or grow more – in our field or in another field,” said Bilich said, “We want to give them the experience of growing up and being who they want to be.”

Amazon has come under fire over the years for working conditions at its massive fulfillment and fulfillment centers. Employees testified before Congress about the grueling pace and compensation of workers.

In the Valley, Bilich said hourly Amazon warehouse jobs start at $17.55. The minimum wage for companies with more than 26 workers in California is $15.

According to Knutson Miller, Amazon offers annual vouchers of up to $5,250 for tuition for full-time employees and $2,625 for part-time employees. There is no lifetime limit to the number of courses students can enroll in under the program.

Stanislaus State tuition and fees for spring 2022 were $2,618 for 0-6 units (typically courses are 3-5 units each) and $3,824 for more than 6 units. Modesto Community College charges tuition per course, which for Spring 2022 was $46 per unit (but the college used federal COVID-19 relief funds to waive all fees for students this semester).

Stanislaus State has about 10,000 students and MJC has about 16,000 students for this semester. Knutson Miller said six Amazon employees are already part of the program, which has just launched locally, and many more are expected to come.

The two colleges join some 140 state and local universities across the country that partner with Amazon for the Career Choice program, which began in 2012 and expanded to hourly warehouse workers this year.

For more information on Amazon’s Career Choice program, visit www.aboutamazon.com/news/workplace/career-choice.

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Marijke Rowland writes about new commercial, restaurant and retail developments. She has worked with The Modesto Bee since 1997 and covers a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. His Business Beat column airs several times a week. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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