After several years with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Matthew Tanner wanted a career change. He loved the security aspects of his position, but he wanted something more fulfilling. A family friend told him about an apprenticeship program at Amgen where he could receive specialized training and then be placed into a full-time open position at the company. He applied, went through the vetting process and began the program in early April. Tanner, along with nine others, are based out of the Amgen Capability Center (ACC) in Tampa and are considered the program's first apprenticeship cohort.
"I have been excited about the program since Day 1," said Tanner, an Orlando native who moved to Tampa five years ago. "I hope to add value and strengths from my 15 years of experience in the Army Reserves and my tours in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Tanner and his colleagues completed a full week of Amgen orientation and are now participating in four months of instruction while getting to know the ACC site, where they're connecting with colleagues and learning more about Amgen's culture and opportunities. Once done with the classroom work, Tanner will begin on-the-job training as a Security Engineer within Digital Technology & Innovation (DTI), while the others will move into different security roles within Cybersecurity & Digital Trust (CDT), all part of DTI.
Furthering efforts to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce
Tamika Jean-Baptiste, Chief Diversity Officer, said the Amgen apprenticeship program furthers Amgen's efforts to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce and develop the skills we need for the future. "Programs like this increase our pool of available talent and by increasing the talent pool, we expect an increase in the diversity of the pool," she said. "Our vision is to learn from this first cohort how we can best shape the apprenticeship program to scale and evolve it to fill future workforce skills gap, while advancing Amgen's long-term goals of recruiting and retaining talent."
Mike Zahigian, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, believes Amgen's program is uniquely designed to create a stable pipeline of skilled talent. "I have thought for some time that there are extraordinarily talented technologists who have gotten their learnings through practice and experience versus formal education," he said. "The apprenticeship program demonstrates Amgen's continued commitment to thinking creatively about how we can address our future workforce needs."
Amgen expects that its efforts supporting OneTen, a coalition of companies aiming to hire and advance one million Black individuals without four-year degrees into good paying jobs over the next 10 years, will be bolstered by focusing on skill-based hiring where it is appropriate, but Amgen's apprenticeship program isn't limited to those without four-year degrees.
Opening doors to new careers
Some, like Demetria Washington, have college degrees but are looking to acquire new skills and explore new career paths. Washington earned a Bachelor of Science degree from University of South Florida in 2020 and originally thought she wanted to be a nurse, but the demands of the program didn't allow her to work while going to school. Instead, she pursued general health in the hopes of finding a good and interesting job.
"But then I realized that I needed to get on a path to a career," she said.
So, the Tampa native began looking for apprenticeships and came across Amgen's program. "I hadn't heard of Amgen before I found the program," Washington said. "But I loved the health aspect, and the company's commitment to diversity aligned with my personal values, so I had a feeling it was going to be a great fit."
Washington is now pursuing a career in computer networking through the apprenticeship program.
"It's very challenging," she said, "especially because I don't have a technical background, but the program leads, the people at Amgen, and my colleagues have been great. I feel like everyone is here to help us succeed."
That's certainly a goal for Anthony "Tony" Soules, Vice President, Information Security and Chief Information Security Officer. He and his team have been instrumental in partnering with the cohort to ensure they have the support and tools needed to thrive.
"Our team is committed to developing the apprentices with the necessary skillsets so that they can be successful in their new roles and careers," said Soules. "Equally, we look forward to learning from their diverse experiences and watching how they contribute directly to our team's learning culture."
New manufacturing apprenticeships at Amgen Ohio
As the program expands, additional teams will soon have opportunities to learn from apprentices. Operations is launching a manufacturing apprenticeship program at Amgen Ohio, with apprentices being selected in June. The cohort is expected to begin their program in July.
"Here in Ohio, we are fully embracing Amgen's efforts to recruit and retain diverse talent. We've already seen a lot of interest from local candidates, and we're excited about the progress that we've made to date. While our apprenticeship program will be specific to Operations, we hope that the program's first cohort will serve as an example for other areas of the company, allowing Amgen to continue expanding the program," said Sandra Rodriguez-Toledo, Vice President of the Site Operations in Ohio.
In addition to the apprenticeship program, Rodriguez-Toledo and Wendy Acton, HR site head, have placed more than 40 applicants without four-year degrees into positions at Amgen Ohio, through formal hiring events as well as organic hiring. These events reinforce Amgen's skills-based approach to hiring and, when combined with the apprenticeship program, demonstrates a commitment to investing in initiatives that will help us better recruit and retain talent.
"The program is a win for everyone involved," Zahigian said. "Apprentices gain valuable experience, critical skills and meaningful career opportunities, while expanding our access to the diverse talent needed to drive the innovation and creativity necessary to serve patients.