AWS teams with gov’t, colleges to close cloud skills gap

AWS Summit DC, Washington, DC – Amazon Web Services (AWS) is looking to train nearly 400,000 students with the skills needed for entry-level tech jobs, launching a new Skills to Jobs initiative in three countries to accomplish this goal. While AWS pitched the program as a boon for enterprises facing a cloud skills gap, Valerie Singer, AWS’ Global Director for Education and Skills to Jobs, admitted the tech giant has huge stake in the program’s success.

“Around the world, every company of a meaningful size is using AWS in a meaningful way, and so the level of skilling required to be able to move customers forward in the way they want...we’re now reaching a point where they may scale back if we don’t provide them with the right skilling,” she told Silverlinings.

According a May 2023 World Economic Forum report, more than 75% of companies are looking to adopt big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) technology within the next five years. Big data analytics, encryption and cybersecurity, digital platforms and apps, and cloud computing are all expected to be net job creators in the global market through 2027.

The same report noted that while companies were optimistic about their ability to develop the necessary skills for transformation among their existing workforce over the coming years, they were not at all optimistic about being able to access talent in hiring.

College to career pipeline

AWS’s new Skills to Jobs Tech Alliance is tackling this problem by bringing together stakeholders from the education and employer communities to ensure colleges are teaching the skills companies are actually seeking. It backs this effort up with support – financial and otherwise – from government entities to tie the whole package up with a bow.

Singer said AWS piloted the program in New York, teaming with the City University of New York (CUNY), the governor’s office and employers in the fall of 2022 to hash out what student curriculum should look like. They started by looking at the jobs employers were looking to hire for and developing skills maps for each. After incorporating employer feedback on those skills maps, they then worked with CUNY to figure out how to overlay those requirements on student curriculum.

All told, Singer said it took about six months to do the overlay and the New York program officially went live in April.

“It’s not for the faint of heart, it does take a lot of heavy lifting. But once you get the system moving and all of the stakeholders aligned it really works well,” she said. “So, we’re repeating that model in different markets.”

Global effort

In addition to New York, Singer said it is launching the program in Illinois with partners in Chicago and Washington State in Seattle. It is also in the early stages of forming partnerships to launch a program in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) region, and it has also debuted the program in Egypt and Spain.

Participating employer partners include Bank of America, BNY Mellon, Citi, CoreStack, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC, T-Mobile and TEKsystems. Educational institutions beyond CUNY taking part include City Colleges of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, Bellevue College, Seattle Colleges, more than 70 universities in Spain and 10 higher education institutions in Egypt.

All told, AWS said its educational partners will collectively be able to serve more than 380,000 students.