Amazon’s Upskilling Initiative Provides Free Career Skills Training In Technology

Amazon’s Upskilling Initiative Provides Free Career Skills Training In Technology

It’s no secret that between the high costs of tuition, room and board, books, college is expensive. Then there’s the national nightmare of student loans. The pandemic may have destroyed the dream of college for others.

That means it will be on employers to put more into their employees and their workforce, providing the skills and training necessary to move up the career ladder.

Kelly Monroe, a mother of two, found just that at Amazon.

Monroe, born in Ohio and raised in Washington, D.C., held a litany of jobs in retail, healthcare and legal support roles. However, because she was unable to work full-time due to the demands of her family, she never really felt like she had a career, until a new Amazon plant opened in Columbus, OH, in 2016.

The mom got a job at the facility working part-time but soon she out about better opportunities. One of them was Amazon’s Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship (MRA)Program

“It came up in an email and I just went for it,” Monroe told BLACK ENTERPRISE. “I applied for it and they replied asking when I could take the test. Scheduled the test, passed the test, did the interview and just waited for my start date.”

Amazon’s MRA program gives employees the opportunity to apply for an apprenticeship that will train them to gain the technical skills and knowledge needed to fill a technical maintenance role.

The program is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor and is part of Amazon’s Upskilling 2025 initiative, a $1.2 billion commitment to provide free skills training to 300,000 Amazon employees in the U.S. over the next four years to help them transition into in-demand, higher-paying jobs, and runs alongside other Amazon upskilling programs.

“Working in the program has been fantastic.” Monroe said. “I’ve been working with people who come from different technological backgrounds. I’m combining everything they’ve been teaching me with my knowledge of Amazon because I came from the operations side and I know how things are processed. It’s really easy for me to come to the other side and fix the issues that we had in operations”

After she completed the first part of the program, Amazon sent Monroe to Dallas to complete 12 weeks of classroom training, which took place at Dallas College in partnership with the college, to receive the certification needed to do the job. Amazon covered housing and transportation costs while she was in school.

Monroe, who now calls herself “the Robot Doctor,” is in the on-the-job training portion of the program, handling maintenance and management on Amazon Drive Robot Units making $21.80 an hour. She will see another jump in pay as she completes the program and becomes a technician.

“The opportunities that Amazon had for me to be able to get to where I’m at have come through supportive managers and program leaders,” Monroe told BLACK ENTERPRISE. “They really work to make sure we have what we need. Once I got into learning everything they had available it was like the sky’s the limit, I just took advantage of it.”