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Amazon Web Services (AWS) has committed to training up 100,000 people across Europe in cloud during 2018 to help lower the barriers to digital transformation for public sector and commercial enterprises.
Speaking in Brussels on 19 April, Teresa Carlson, the cloud services giant’s vice-president of worldwide public sector, described the cloud skills gap as a major barrier to innovation for organisations worldwide.
“The skills gap is huge, and it’s not just here in Europe but around the world. [This is] because the technology has changed, and the curriculum that is required to be taught and the understanding of that is evolving so fast,” Carlson told attendees during the opening keynote of the AWS Public Sector Summit.
“Right here, in Europe, there are 350,000 ICT specialists needed, and we need to help fill those job skills and quickly,” she added.
As the world’s largest cloud provider, Carlson said AWS realises it has a responsibility for ensuring its customers can source individuals with the skills and experience needed to support their cloud plans, which it has done to date through the rollout of several programmes.
These include the Re:Start programme it launched in January 2017 to help school children, young adults and ex-military personnel develop with skills in cloud technologies, which Carlson claimed 68% of participants so far have used to secure on-the-job training afterwards.
It also runs the AWS Academy to help universities and enterprises train their staff in using cloud, alongside the AWS Educate initiative, which provides universities and secondary schools with AWS credits and curriculum resources to help teach their students about cloud.
“We have thousands of universities around the world taking advantage [of these programmes] and we really see the results of all these,” said Carlson.
To capitalise on the success it claims to have with these programmes, the company is now setting itself the target of using them to boost the availability of cloud skills across the continent.
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“We are committing to contributing to Europe’s cloud workforce by making sure we’re reaching 100,000 individuals across Europe in 2018 that need job skills through these programmes,” said Carlson.
Speaking to Computer Weekly at the AWS Public Sector Summit, Carlson said sourcing staff with cloud skills is a real challenge for government agencies because of how reliant they are on legacy systems.
“They have these old COBOL systems [and] IBM mainframes and they are the key thing they’re using the majority of their budget on – and they are overpaying because they have to keep old skills hired,” she said.
“They’re stuck where they are with these old skills, so it’s like how do we bring new people in and how do we get these people reskilled? One of the top two or three things we’re always told by [customers] is, ‘Help me get the skills I need’,” she added.
When organisations bring in people with cloud skills, Carlson said experience shows their presence can have a positive on the rest of the organisation.
“[Organisations] say when they hire new skilled workers and put them on a job to where they’re using cloud or new technologies to do new things, they’re happy, they like the work and it helps them recruit others,” she added.
Alongside its recruitment pledge, AWS also used the summit to announce an expansion of its efforts to get more education-focused startups to build products and services in its cloud through its EdStart programme.
The initiative launched in the US in 2017, and is now opening up to organisations based in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and is designed to provide them with access to a range of support to grow their businesses.