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Washington Schools, AWS to Train K-12 Students in Cloud Tech

In partnership with Amazon Web Services, Washington public schools are launching a statewide effort to train 2,500 K-12 students in cloud computing and related subjects over the next three years.

Cloud computing
In Washington state, where some of the world’s largest cloud companies such as Amazon and Microsoft are headquartered, a new partnership between public schools and Amazon Web Services intends to certify 2,500 K-12 students for cloud-computing jobs over the next three years.

According to an announcement Wednesday from the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the statewide program will give educators access to professional development training, and participating schools access to curriculum materials about artificial intelligence, data, cybersecurity and other IT subjects related to cloud computing. Also supported by the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, it's the first statewide partnership with AWS to focus exclusively on training K-12 students, preparing them for AWS certifications as "cloud practitioners," associate solution architects, associate developers and other jobs.

“Our education system plays the vital role of preparing our young people for success after high school,” Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said in a public statement. “Our economy and the needs of employees and employers are evolving, and the K-12 system has to evolve with it. I’m thankful for this collaboration with AWS, which will make a difference for many of our students.”

Lt. Gov. Denny Heck said in a public statement that the partnership would help keep Washington competitive as a technology leader on the world stage while making one of its top industries more accessible to aspiring professionals from underrepresented communities.

“Through this initiative, students across Washington will be able to obtain skills to make them successful and competitive in the global workforce," he said. "This initiative also provides an opportunity for equitable, substantial educational development for all students across our state — east, south, north, west and central. I’m excited that Washington state is piloting this initiative using AWS education programs and building up the diverse, high-skill workforce we need."

According to a 2020 report from Economic Modeling Specialist International cited in the state's news release, Washington had 165,486 unique cloud job postings last year, more than half of which went unfilled. The story is much the same across the country amid an IT skills gap that has continued to grow while the demand for IT professionals has outpaced applicants.

State, local and private organizations have not been sleeping on this problem. For example, in 2019, state legislators passed HB 1599 to promote career and college readiness within high school graduation requirements. At the local level, districts such as Aberdeen have announced plans to increase investments in GED and career and technical programs, and last month, AWS launched its Skills Center in Seattle after pledging last year to provide free cloud computing training to 29 million people nationwide by 2025.

“We want to inspire the next generation of tech leaders through engaging and modern cloud computing curricula that have students excited to take the next step in pursuing a tech career — whether that’s securing a job through a certification or advancing their knowledge at a higher education institution," said Kim Majerus, VP of U.S. education for state and local government at AWS, in a public statement.