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Creating a Culture of Lifelong Learning for the Workforce

The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2022, over half of the workforce will require significant reskilling or upskilling to do their jobs—and this data was published prior to the pandemic.

I’ve always valued education, because it shapes our world and defines our future. At Amazon Web Services (AWS), we work with K12 schools, higher education institutions, education technology and learning companies to support both teaching and learning.

The institutions and their dedicated instructors collaborate daily and deliver education to the current and future workforce. These students will help AWS, our customers and partners, and industries and governments across the globe continue to innovate.

Alongside the education institutions, we are committed to providing access to cloud computing and technical skills to everyone, no matter their knowledge level. On a panel hosted by the Washingtonian on “How the Tech Sector Is Upskilling the Workforce,” I shared how AWS is helping individuals on their cloud career journey for reskilling and upskilling, and how other companies can follow.

Empowering employees to advance their career

The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2022, over half of the workforce will require significant reskilling or upskilling to do their jobs—and this data was published prior to the pandemic. As we look at the current increase in job losses, now more than ever, reskilling and upskilling the workforce is important to our customers and at Amazon. Agile and equitable reskilling and upskilling efforts are critical and can unlock opportunities for people to build new careers and get back to work. Employers have an important role to play in this effort by making reskilling investments in current employees. Workers can benefit from tools and resources to grow within their company and adapt to the changing job landscape. In 2019, Amazon committed to invest $700 million to train 100,000 Amazon employees in the U.S. for high-demand jobs, and now AWS will help 29 million people globally grow their technical skills with free cloud computing skills training.

Collaborating to build pathways to tech jobs

We see the demand for skilled cloud talent at Amazon and AWS with thousands of open technical roles. But this doesn’t just impact tech-focused enterprises. Organizations across various sectors and industries need to fill roles such as software development, cloud architecture, data science, cyber security, cloud support engineers, and more. We are in an environment where workforce development programs and initiatives need to be reevaluated to work backwards from specific career needs to help learners gain the right skills. Public-private sector collaboration between education, industry, and policymakers can speed access to education resources, hands-on opportunities for the workforce, and stackable credentials mapped to in-demand tech jobs. AWS has launched statewide announcements with Texas, Virginia, Louisiana, Arizona, Utah, and globally, where we’ve worked with community colleges, four-year institutions, and high schools as the institutions developed cloud degrees, specializations, certificates, and training programs. As part of our efforts in Virginia, Northern Virginia Community College, AWS Educate, and AWS Academy launched a cloud computing specialization as part of its information systems technology associate of applied science degree in fall 2018. The program, which includes AWS Academy courses, was on one of the first cloud computing degrees in the nation offered by a community college.

Making tech skills training more inclusive

For individuals without tech experience, or unemployed and underemployed workers, securing a cloud computing job can seem daunting. AWS has a vast portfolio of training programs to meet learners where they are. Nontraditional pathways that focus on in-demand skills through certifications, associate’s degrees, and real-world training programs are critical to building a technical talent pipeline. Community colleges are one way we reach diverse communities and individuals with varying skill levels. AWS Academy and AWS Educate work closely with community colleges to equip learners with cloud skills. We also have AWS re/Start, which is a full-time training program that prepares unemployed and underemployed individuals for careers in the cloud and connects them to potential employers in 12 countries around the world. To help expand career opportunities in rural communities, we are collaborating with AWS Partners such as 1901 Group to reach individuals outside of urban centers. For learners that need foundational technical and computer skills, nonprofits such as ByteBack are helping to close the digital divide so they can pursue more advanced skills.

Looking ahead as the world continues to recover from the impact of COVID-19, reskilling the workforce will continue to be a critical topic. Watch the Washingtonian panel “How the Tech Sector Is Upskilling the Workforce,” to learn more about how. And learn more in the new Amazon and Accenture study, “Upskilling for a Post-Pandemic Economy,” which analyzes more than 188 million job transitions completed in the U.S. and shows the increasing importance of acquiring technical and scientific skills to move into high-paying, in-demand jobs.

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