Sunday, 14 October 2018 22:23

AWS says it can help tertiary education solve cloud skills shortage


Research indicates cloud computing skills are in demand, yet the demand for skilled engineers and architects outpaces the availability of such people. Global cloud platform AWS says it’s providing content to educational institutions to bridge this gap.

AWS’ head of Education, Non-Profit and Healthcare, APAC/J, Vincent Quah spoke exclusively to iTWire, explaining the problem AWS saw. “We recognised customers and partners were saying it is so difficult to hire all the skilled individuals and workers they need to do all their current projects.”

“LinkedIn says cloud computing is the number one skillset high in demand, and Global Knowledge shows data on the salaries commanded by vendor certification, with two of the AWS certifications in the top five highest paid in the world. Companies are paying top dollar to hire AWS certified professionals which suggests they are very high in demand and it’s very hard to find the supply our customers and partners need,” he said.

“We looked at these two data points and others and came to the conclusion the cloud industry was not growing fast enough from a skills perspective.”

AWS thus developed its AWS Educate program to directly address this skill gap in the industry. “We looked to solve it with a new way of approaching the problem,” Quah said. “Not just putting in our own effort to train, but to connect to tertiary institutions and government.”

AWS sees this tripartite relationship as a key way to accelerate the development of deep cloud technical skills across the globe.

AWS Educate provides training content through video classes and documentation published online. It’s not AWS’ exclusive effort; the organisation worked with the “top 10 computer science schools across the world”, says Quah, to populate the program with the content those schools have developed and are willing to share.

Tertiary institutions can join free and students and educators alike receive AWS cloud credits with their membership.

“This is really important,” Quah said. “Cloud credits are given to individuals so they can have hands-on practical experience with the entire AWS platform. It’s very unique and different. We give students access to the full set of services AWS provides to the very largest of government and industrial organisations, and to the largest startups built on AWS.”

“From compute to storage to advanced AI services, machine learning and Internet of Things, students have the same access to the same things. It gives students hands-on experience in using AWS.”

There’s a lot of content, so much so AWS has broken it up to match specific job roles, in line with its objective of tackling the skills gap. Currently, AWS Educate offers 29 different learning pathways that fit into four different types of roles – architecture, data analytics, software development and systems administration. The platform is self-service, with any student able to learn on their own. Students can then practice on the AWS platform itself with the credits supplied free.

Education is only part of the solution. The portal also provides a job and internship board, highlighting roles relevant to the pathway the student has taken, and also highlighting the student’s achievements along the way.

AWS Educate is used by 1500 institutions and by teachers numbering in the tens of thousands and students in the hundreds of thousands. In Australia, these institutions include RMIT, Monash University, the University of Western Australia, Queensland University of Technology, the University of Canberra and the University of NSW.

RMIT, for example, has announced new courses delivered through mixed-reality technologies, via Amazon Sumerian, covering artificial intelligence and machine learning, with content adapted from AWS Educate.

Meanwhile, La Trobe University has launched a cloud computing degree using AWS, delivered online and with exit points at years one and two, as well as the full degree at year three.

“The adoption of cloud in Australia is really accelerating rapidly. We’re seeing many Universities using AWS and innovating and transforming their IT services and delivery of IT services,” Quah said.


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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.



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