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AWS ‘Skills to Jobs Tech Alliance’ Involves 78 Universities

The AWS initiative will partner with several major companies, workforce development organizations and international agencies to tailor technology and upskilling programs for the job market.

The letters "aws" standing on the floor in a building.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has enlisted the help of Fortune 500 companies, workforce development organizations, international government agencies and education leaders to align tech programs at 78 institutions with the needs of entry-level tech careers.

According to a news release this week, the AWS Skills to Jobs Tech Alliance will work with institutions to develop training curricula and activities for upskilling students for jobs in cloud support, software development and data integration, and to integrate AWS training content into existing curricula. The announcement said participating institutions serve more than 380,000 learners, and partners include companies such as Bank of America, BNY Mellon, Citi, CoreStack, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC, T-Mobile and TEKsystems, acting as “talent shapers” to help guide AWS-supplemented programming at institutions like the City Colleges of Chicago.

“By equipping our students with in-demand skills and access to cutting-edge technology pathways, we are strengthening their career readiness and resilience in a rapidly evolving job market,” Juan Salgado, chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago, said in a public statement.

Valerie Singer, director of global education at AWS, told Government Technology that in addition to the City Colleges of Chicago, the alliance now includes the Illinois Institute of Technology, Bellevue College and Seattle Colleges in Washington, where similar efforts are now underway to upskill students for tech careers. Singer said the training alliance will also expand to colleges in Spain and Egypt, where employers have many of the same challenges with tech skills gaps and finding qualified applicants for vacancies.

She said the alliance draws from one of AWS’ first regional initiatives in New York City, which involved partnerships with employers, the New York Jobs CEO Council, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development and the Tech Talent Pipeline. They teamed up on developing and modernizing technical programming at Borough of Manhattan Community College, College of Staten Island, Queensborough Community College (QCC) and City University of New York (CUNY). She said those efforts at CUNY system schools, launched in April, will serve as a scalable model for other regions moving forward.

“It’s not just [about] skills like you need to be able to automate a task via Python. It transcends that. It’s also, ‘I need to have the curiosity to learn a new skill, durable skills like working in a team and evidence of experiential learning and being able to complete a project from start to finish.’ What we are building in these models is exactly that, from not just the academic learning [aspect] but also the hands-on and experiential learning that goes with it,” Singer said, noting that each that are involved are in various phases of evaluating curricula and modernizing programming as of this week.

Noting a recent study from the World Economic Forum predicting that more than 1 billion workers could have their jobs displaced or careers radically changed by advances in emerging technologies, she said, the main goal will be for students to gain demonstrative skills in emerging tech via a variety of activities such as capstone projects and virtual/in-person apprenticeship programs.

“What we intend also is that student learners will have the opportunity to sit for cloud practitioner exams when they complete their learning path, so they have a certification when they graduate, as well. It gives students a leg up because they have credentialing that’s differentiated from other programs. Capstones and other [opportunities for] experiential learning are part of that,” she said, noting that the initiative will look to expand even further in the future.

Singer said the tech alliance will also build on other AWS-led education and career readiness efforts announced in recent years, such as a private-public partnership to pilot cloud-computing courses at high schools in Hawaii to build a workforce talent pipeline and certify 150 people by 2025; and AWS CloudRoom, a pilot program for the 2023-24 school year to help students ages 9-14 learn more about the cloud.

“We want to make sure everybody benefits from digital skilling to get on a career path for good-paying jobs,” she said.
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.