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Michele Siekerka addressing employers at Amazon fulfillment center

NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka addresses employers at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Robbinsville.

Amazon is famous for its ability to provide virtually any kind of goods to any kind of consumer. With its Career Choice program, it’s now able to provide different kinds of businesses with skilled workers.

Career Choice is Amazon’s worker training and education program, complete with tuition assistance and on-site learning. Unlike most corporate education programs, however, it’s not necessarily aimed at employees who will continue to work at Amazon. Many of them are likely to continue their careers at other companies, and Amazon is just fine with that.

“For us, what we’re trying to do is maintain that skilled workforce in the community in which we operate,” said Steve Johnson, director of Career Choice during a presentation for about 25 employers at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Robbinsville. The company wants to supplement the classroom learning with practical experience for the associates.

Career Choice offers hourly, non-exempt, employees the opportunity to learn new skills and build their careers, whether at Amazon or elsewhere. The company pays 95 percent of tuition to pursue either a certificate or associate degree, with 50 percent of it paid up front. Sixteen thousand hourly associates have participated worldwide.

“What I heard this morning is exactly answering a need that I hear every single day from our companies,” said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka. “We have over 40,000 vacant jobs in New Jersey that are at the middle-skill level. Those jobs pay wages that are high enough for people to live, work and raise a family in the state of New Jersey.”

She said NJBIA’s Post-secondary Education Task Force has spent a year studying how to build New Jersey’s future workforce, and it has found the biggest demand isn’t for the highest educated, but for traditional skills, many of which do not require a four-year college degree.

The fact that Amazon is focused on the exact skills New Jersey employers need is no accident. Amazon does its homework and targets fields for in-demand jobs.

“We also have established employer partners who are committed to supporting the program and are interested in hiring Career Choice graduates,” Johnson said.

If your company has hiring needs in Healthcare, Manufacturing, IT/ Computer Science, or Commercial Drivers, learn more about becoming a Preferred Employer Partner with Amazon Career Choice. Visit the website at www.amazon.com/CareerChoice or email EmployerPartnerships@Amazon.com.

Amazon has become a major employer in New Jersey. Since 2012, it has opened eight fulfillment centers, investing $4 billion and creating 16,000 jobs. The Robbinsville facility was opened in 2014 and employs 2,500 full-time workers.