July 21, 2022
VINCENNES, Ind. - Vincennes University has an established history with Amazon. When Amazon came calling on Vincennes University in 2019, VU developed a first-of-its-kind robotics and automation apprenticeship program for the global online retail giant. Now, Amazon and VU are expanding their partnership through another program that offers Amazon employees a fully-funded college education.
The Amazon Career Choice program offers hourly Amazon employees in Indiana and throughout the U.S. the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree, associate degree, or certificate. Amazon is covering the tuition, fees, and books that will allow employees to move into higher-paying, in-demand jobs.
VU is among a select group of more than 200 education partners chosen to assist Amazon in empowering its frontline employees with expanded career advancement opportunities and access to the education needed to grow their careers through the Amazon Career Choice program.
VU’s Distance Education program offers more than 40 certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degree programs as part of the Amazon Career Choice program.
“VU's online programs are excellent for any worker hoping to earn a college degree,” said Shanni Simmons, VU’s assistant vice president of lifelong learning in the College of Extended Studies. “Most of our classes allow students to learn at any time, with pre-recorded lectures and interactive internet-based lessons.”
More than 80,000 Amazon employees have participated globally since the Career Choice program’s inception, including more than 35,000 in the U.S.
Healthcare, transportation, and information technology are the program’s most popular fields of study.
Employees are able to participate in the Career Choice program for the lifetime of their employment at Amazon and are eligible after only 90 days of employment.
Amazon and VU have forged a strong partnership in multiple programs.
In 2019, Amazon partnered with VU to launch the Amazon Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship (MRA) program to up-skill its employees with free robotics training. Apprentices study and train at the Vincennes Campus or Made@Plainfield higher education center in the Indianapolis area.
According to VU Vice President of Workforce Development and Community Services David Tucker, “VU had to deliver Prime-level service to Amazon to meet its expectations for curriculum development and execution. The entire project took seven months to conceptualize, develop, review, and implement.”
The more extensive pilot apprenticeship in Plainfield is a two-year program that started in the fall of 2019. Apprentices study to become certified technicians at MADE@Plainfield and earn numerous credentials.
A 12-week intensive residential experience began in 2020 at the Vincennes Campus. VU celebrated an impressive milestone by graduating its 500th MRA apprentice earlier this year.
The U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship program provides rigorous training and education through immersive classroom learning, hands-on instruction, and on-the-job training.
Apprentices live on the Vincennes Campus while they receive 360 hours of technical instruction and work toward earning multiple credentials. They also have access to facilities, resources, and amenities like other VU students. MRA grads earn an 18-credit Certificate of Program Completion in Mechatronics which is stackable to a VU associate degree. The program drastically expanded in 2021 when the number of apprentices trained at the Vincennes Campus jumped from 300 to 600.
VU is helping create life-changing opportunities for students in high-wage, in-demand careers by offering viable pathways to Amazon employees, regardless of background or age. The University also is helping grow a 21st-century workforce for one of the biggest companies in the world.
For more information on the Amazon Career Choice program, explore vinu.edu/amazon