- To provide upskilling programs for in-demand jobs, Amazon announced Jan. 27 it will run the Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship (MRA) Program, a free program that is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, according to the company.
- All Amazon employees can apply for the first phase of the apprenticeship. Upon admittance, participants will receive training from the company's education partners during a 12-week course. Following coursework, employees will participate in a year-long apprenticeship with a technical maintenance specialist to become eligible for a full-time job as a mechatronics and robotics technician. Amazon estimated the new skill sets may result in hourly wages up to almost 40% higher, according to the announcement.
- High-performers who complete the first phase of the program may be eligible for additional training with an Amazon higher education partner, followed by approximately two years of on-the-job learning. After this extended period of coursework and training, "participants will be eligible for even more skilled and higher-paying roles in technical maintenance," according to Amazon.
Apprenticeship programs became challenging to maintain amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to experts.
"Apprenticeships have in the past five to 10 years seen a boom across different industries," Katie Spiker, director of government affairs at the nonprofit National Skills Coalition, previously told HR Dive. In continuing in-person learning operations across the country, programs "had to be creative," Spiker said. Some programs have been gradually increasing access to the classroom, while others opted to embrace distance learning, she said.
In general, the pandemic has also forced many employers to focus on upskilling and reskilling workers to strengthen workforce development. MRA is part of Amazon's Upskilling 2025 initiative to provide free skills training to 100,000 employees in the U.S. by 2025 to prepare them for higher-paying jobs, according to the company. Amazon's Career Choice program pays for up to 95% of tuition and fees for employees to get training and certification for in-demand jobs within their communities.