Amazon is the second-biggest employer in the U.S. — and one of the country’s largest investors in education and training. Last month the massive retailer announced a plan to spend $1.2 billion by 2025 to expand its employee education and training offerings, which include a set of internal programs but also cover the full cost of academic programs up to bachelor’s degrees for its front-line workers.
Amazon’s approach to education and training is notable not just because of the big dollar figures attached, but also given the signals that major employers like Amazon send about how they view the quality of traditional higher education programs and institutions.
In this week’s episode of The Key, Inside Higher Ed’s news and analysis podcast, Amazon’s vice president for workforce development, Ardine Williams, talks about the company’s new investments as well as its relationship with colleges and universities, which she describes as more cooperative than competitive. She also discusses her views about the value of a liberal arts education, which may not square with what you’ve heard from some quarters of corporate America — and the tech sector in particular — in recent years.