Earlier today, I went to Amazon.com in order to look up a book-title. On the front page I was welcomed by a letter from Jeff Bezos to his customers. Two paragraphs caught my attention:
We want to make it easier for employees to make that choice and pursue their aspirations. It can be difficult in this economy to have the flexibility and financial resources to teach yourself new skills. So, for people who've been with us as little as three years, we're offering to pre-pay 95% of the cost of courses such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technologies, medical lab technologies, nursing, and many other fields.
The program is unusual. Unlike traditional tuition reimbursement programs, we exclusively fund education only in areas that are well-paying and in high demand according to sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and we fund those areas regardless of whether those skills are relevant to a career at Amazon. [Emphasis added--ES; see here for details on the program.]
Now, normally I don't get too exercised by paternalistic compensation programs run by large coorporations. But I was struck that a company, which was originally built on (electronic) books and educational materials must have a lot of student and education-related customers at one point or another, would treat the value of education worth paying for as exclusively linked to income and employment. It turns out that other "aspirations" are not very valued at Amazon.