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Amazon and LCCC Launch Workforce Training Partnership

By Colin McEvoy on February 5, 2021

Victor Daniel is an Amazon employee enrolled in the MRA program at Lehigh Carbon Community College. (photo courtesy Amazon)

The Lehigh Valley is one of only four nationwide locations hosting a recently-launched Amazon training program to prepare apprentices for careers in advanced manufacturing.

Lehigh Carbon Community College and Amazon have established a new training partnership offering a pathway to careers in industrial automation for people working in Amazon’s next generation of distribution and fulfillment centers.

“We are honored to provide this training in partnership with Amazon, which is a major employer in the area,” said LCCC President Dr. Ann D. Bieber. “This type of program is truly the way of the future to be able to meet the needs of a changing and demanding workplace.”

The apprentices provide maintenance at an Amazon facility who will be trained for a career in mechatronics and robotics.

“When I joined Amazon, I believed there would be opportunities to grow my career, and I’m thrilled to be part of something as innovative as robotic maintenance,” said Victor Daniel, an Amazon employee enrolled in the MRA program at LCCC. “To have the opportunity to go back to school for free, get trained, and then learn on the job, all while earning more, has been a huge benefit.”

The college began its second cohort of 76 apprentices in early December, Bieber said. An original class of 25 completed the program in September, bringing to 101 the total trained to date. An additional class began on Jan. 4, with additional classes planned throughout 2021.

“Students will complete a comprehensive curriculum and are now ready to take their skills into the Amazon facilities,” Bieber said. “We look forward to welcoming future classes to our campus and further developing programs that impact employment readiness.”

This training is part of Amazon’s Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship program. Other such programs have taken place at schools in Indiana, North Carolina, and Texas, according to the company.

“Even without any previous technical experience, our apprentices gain valuable skills through a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job learning that prepares them to join the world-class teams at our Fulfillment Centers,” according to Amazon.

The program is part of Amazon’s Upskilling 2025 initiative, a $700 million program seeking to provide free skills training to 100,000 Amazon employees nationwide within five years to transition into higher-paying jobs. It will cover roughly one third of the company’s U.S. workforce, according to Amazon.

Apprentices in the LCCC program complete the 12-week program with a variety of courses that will prepare them for a career in industrial automation. After they have successfully passed four national exams, these graduates will return to their facilities for the on-the-job learning portion of the program, according to LCCC.

This program is a U.S. Department of Labor-registered apprenticeship. Apprentices utilize Amatrol e-learning, lecture and equipment in the new 2,000-square-foot lab located in the Technology Center on LCCC’s campus in North Whitehall Township.

Apprentices attend classes five days per week, combining online and instructor facilitated classroom work with hands-on skill assessment. The program translates to credit programming at LCCC in the related fields, so if students want to continue their education, it is a seamless path to an associate degree, according to LCCC.

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