What's Next for Amazon? Workforce Development
Photo credit: Dan Farber. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 General license.
When you think of Amazon, a few things probably come to mind: online shopping, drone delivery, and possibly even the New York Times. But one other thing should come to mind that often gets overlooked: workforce development. Thanks to a strategic partnership with the Maricopa Corporate College (MCOR), hundreds of associates working in Arizona’s Amazon fulfillment centers are gaining access to a litany of courses to help them advance their careers—both within and outside of Amazon.
MCOR, created in 2013 as part of the Maricopa Community College system, works differently than a traditional academic model based on seat-time and credit hours. Our college works directly with local businesses to quickly develop and implement training solutions based on specifically identified needs. In addition, the corporate college provides consultative services to businesses, and continuing education to individuals.
The partnership was started to provide new educational opportunities for associates inspiring them to pursue long-term careers while encouraging them to stay longer at Amazon. It is through this unique structure that MCOR was able to build a partnership with Amazon, available to employees who had been with the company for more than a year, to take on-site classes at its fulfillment centers as a benefit of their employment.
Our courses span a wide range of subjects, offering varying opportunities in high-demand careers. For example, employees looking to enter the business or technology fields can take classes that result in transfer credits to any one of the 10 colleges in the Maricopa Community College system.
What’s more, many of the courses are competency-based, and work on an accelerated timeframe. For example, students interested in healthcare can complete a pharmacy technician course in an average of about 12 weeks while still working at Amazon and finish the course prepared to take the certification exam. MCOR is also working with Amazon now to develop a career planning system where associates can evaluate their current knowledge, skills, and interests to help decide which courses to take.
By offering students on-site opportunities while maintaining employment, employers are able to develop engaged workers and students are able to have the wraparound services needed to help get their careers off the ground. It’s the best of both worlds: loyal employees for Amazon who feel challenged and inspired on a weekly basis, and student-employees that have career direction to pursue their passions once they leave the doors of Amazon.
Amazon is a trendsetter in every sense of the word and I think we’ll see more businesses following suit, possibly on a much broader scale over the next 10 years. By allowing businesses to partner with education, MCOR is creating better outcomes for both students and employees. With the nation’s skills gap reaching unprecedented heights, we must begin to embrace these nontraditional education pathways if we are to build the skills today that our workforce will need to succeed tomorrow.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Eugene Giovannini is president of Maricopa Corporate College.