A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Amazon celebrates first-ever graduating class of GED pilot program at Shepherdsville fulfillment center

Amazon celebrated its first-ever GED advancement pilot program graduation this week at the company’s Shepherdsville fulfillment center.

Amazon launched the GED credential pilot program in April 2021 in partnership with Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) as part of KY Skills U, Office of Adult Education in the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EWDC). The program is designed to advance the education of Amazon employees in Kentucky who do not possess a high school diploma or GED equivalency.

Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman poses with Amazon and Jefferson Community and Technical College representatives, along with a graduate of the first GED pilot program class Tuesday.(Photo from JCTC)

“I was excited about coming to the graduation because I believe this is the start of something big at Amazon in Kentucky and I would love to see GED programs replicated across the state at other companies,” said Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who serves as the secretary for EWDC. “As a teacher, I know the difference a high school diploma or GED diploma can make in a person’s life and future. We appreciate our partners Amazon and KCTCS for making this life-changing opportunity available to Amazon’s employees and I encourage all Kentucky employers to offer a GED program for their employees. When companies invest in their employees’ education, they see a huge return on their investment in the future.”

The Amazon program focuses on hiring and providing access to free education resources in Kentucky as part of the company’s first advancement initiative to help employees further their career goals. As part of the pilot, GED preparation classes were offered onsite during work hours. Two employees were graduates of the first class.

“Amazon provided me the opportunity to pursue a dream of mine and supported me throughout,” according to Harold Perez, the first graduate from the Shepherdsville facility. “I couldn’t have reached this goal without the support from the leadership team and the KCTC staff. Now that I’ve earned my GED, this has become a stepping stone to my next goal of starting college in the fall of this year!”

In January 2020, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Kentucky would waive the testing fee for Kentuckians seeking to earn a GED diploma. Since then, more than 6,300 Kentuckians have taken advantage of the fee-waiver program to work toward their GED credential.

The GED test fee is one of the most common barriers facing adults lacking education in Kentucky. With more than 317,000 working-age Kentuckians without a GED credential or high school diploma, the EWDC has allotted $600,000 in state funding to waive test fees for first-time test takers. The GED® test fees, which are the equivalent of $120, cover all four test sections.

Kentuckians can take the GED virtually or in-person through KY Skills U at kyskillsu.ky.gov.

Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet

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