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MoD signs three-year deal with AWS to bolster defence sector’s digital skills

UK Ministry of Defence is joining forces with Amazon Web Services to boost the defence sector’s cloud capabilities

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has signed a digital skills-focused three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UK government’s Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The arrangement will see AWS provide three years’ support to the MoD’s Digital Skills for Defence programme, which is geared to provide “critical” digital skills to people working in the defence sector.

Specifically, Amazon’s involvement in the initiative will see it roll out cloud-based skills development and training to thousands of defence personnel and those working in the wider defence supply chain, to protect the UK from emerging threats.

The agreement, announced during a keynote at this year’s AWS Re:Invent partner and customer conference in Las Vegas, is being billed as a “first of its kind” for the MoD.

“Today marks a key milestone in the delivery of our Digital Skills for Defence programme and the development of digital skills across UK defence,” said MoD CIO Charles Forte. “Amazon’s agreement to build upon and scale up our work within the Digital Skills for Defence programme is a crucial priority that will help us realise digital transformation across defence.

“It serves as an important symbol of how we must deepen our work with the tech sector to realise our objectives. We are grateful for this commitment and look forward to developing this partnership with AWS and other companies and organisations across the sector.”

Chris Hayman, director of public sector for UK and Ireland at AWS, said the agreement shows the company’s commitment to supporting the government’s push to ensure the whole public sector has a high level of cloud skills at its disposal.

“We are proud to be the first company to sign an MoU of this nature with the UK Ministry of Defence,” he said. “We are fully committed to supporting the government’s skills agenda across the whole of the public sector, and this agreement reflects our determination to support the defence community in their development of a world-leading skills environment.

“To better help defence organisations with their digital transformations, a clear understanding across government and among senior military leaders about the benefits of emerging technology, such as cloud, to deliver critical missions is needed.”

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Hayman added: “We are excited to be working with the MoD to help upskill senior officials and military leaders in their understanding of cloud and associated technologies, such as quantum technology and artificial intelligence.”

The MoD contract is not the only piece of skills-focused news to come out of this year’s Re:Invent, as AWS also unveiled a new addition to its digital learning centre, AWS Skill Builder, in the form of an interactive game designed to help enterprises design and build their own industry-specific offerings.

Known as AWS Industry Quest, the game’s first iteration is geared to help financial services firms design cloud services that will enable them to address common use cases in their industry.

How it works is that users are given the opportunity to take over the running of a virtual financial services company, rebrand it and – by completing several solution-building exercises – grow the company so that it achieves market-leader status.

“Each Industry Quest assignment begins with a challenge brief describing the firm’s problem, learning objectives, and a list of personal rewards,” said AWS in a blog post.

“Using an in-game console environment, players learn how to build the solution, then apply their knowledge to complete it on their own.”

AWS added: “When players successfully complete a solution, they increase the firm’s key performance indicators, earn rewards to unlock new workspace furniture and décor to customise their space, and watch it grow from a one-storey office to a multi-level building.”

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