From education to employment

5 steps to incorporate comprehensive skills training into your cloud initiatives

By Maureen Lonergan, director, AWS Training and Certification

Research conducted recently by independent consultancy, Public First, looked at the value that cloud and AWS are creating for small and medium businesses across the UK, and found that companies running on the cloud are nearly three times as likely to be growing over 5% a year than those who are not. With the cloud, organisations reap the benefits of an agile, flexible, easily scalable set of IT resources to meet their ever changing needs.

The cloud offers huge potential for delivering successful, innovative business outcomes when compared to traditional, legacy IT infrastructure models. There’s no question that organisations are eager to realise these benefits. However, a full 90 percent of IT decision makers say their businesses are lacking in adequate cloud skills[1], a situation that can disrupt any and all plans for growth and innovation.

One solution proven to be effective is including a comprehensive training program in an organisation’s cloud transformation initiative. Organisations that invest in comprehensive training at the onset of their cloud journey are 80 percent faster to adopt the cloud.2 They are also 81 percent more likely to progress to the next milestone of their cloud adoption journey within 24 months.2

From building your teams’ skills to encouraging a cloud-first mindset, a comprehensive training approach helps you create your own pools of cloud talent, which is instrumental in helping your organisation’s cloud-adoption goals.

What is comprehensive cloud training?

Cloud initiatives need to be approached as enterprise-wide processes involving all departments. Viewing them merely as IT projects undervalues their potential impact on the wider organisation. In fact, organisations that are comprehensively trained are almost three times more likely to realise that cloud can help jump-start innovation, and nearly five times more likely to overcome operational and performance concerns.[2]

Comprehensive training consists of deep technical training for key IT teams, and broad training in cloud fundamentals for general stakeholders, like sales or marketing staff.

The more your employees understand the cloud, the faster your organisation can become a cloud-first organisation. Being cloud-first reshapes how an organisation thinks about technology and involves all your staff, leading to collaboration across teams and cloud fluency.

Spreading cloud fluency through cloud skills training throughout your organisation yields many benefits:

  • It provides your employees with the knowledge and the confidence to innovate faster and experiment more broadly.
  • Barriers between business and technical staff dissipate, with everyone using common terminology and conversing more fluently in the language of cloud.
  • Teams can collaborate more efficiently, quickly translating customer needs into technical solutions.

Following are five steps to stand up a comprehensive cloud training program and foster cloud fluency across your organisation:

  1. Build your cloud advocate communities
  1. Assess your cloud skills gap and prioritize targets

Next, use a Learning Needs Analysis tool from AWS Training and Certification to assess your organisation’s current skill levels and identify quantifiable skills gaps—and specific business areas that will see the greatest impact from comprehensive cloud training. The analysis is used to create a comprehensive training and industry certification plan for your organisation and addresses the needs of your employees. Often, a more comprehensive training programme will address the most pressing gaps first.

  1. Create customised training paths

Next, create customised programmes that support your specific goals and technical needs from a variety of expert learning modalities, aimed at all skill levels of your organisation.

Comprehensive training provides a choice of learning methods, and includes on-site and virtual private learning, digital training, classroom courses, events, and programs with goal markers and curriculum tracks. It provides plans for who gets trained, in which domains, and a schedule for when they get trained, as well as how that training is delivered. These trainings can also foster opportunities for hands-on, real-world projects and gamified engagements that create excitement around the process of becoming cloud fluent.

  1. Promote continued skills development through industry certification

Over time, a class of cloud-fluent employees will emerge. These pioneers help inspire the organisation, showing how effective learning can be—for instance, seeking industry certifications that validated their skills and expertise through a rigorous exam.

Certification is not just for IT staff. Industry certifications range from cloud fundamentals to professional and specialty levels. Certification bolsters confidence and makes employees more efficient. According to the Global Knowledge 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report, 43 percent of IT professionals say certification helps them perform their jobs faster.

Over 90 percent of decision-makers agree that cloud-certified employees provide added value above and beyond the cost of training.[3]

  1. Support continuous learning that scales for innovation

When your organisation makes an investment in comprehensive cloud training programs, you can expect those initiatives to lead to positive business results, but what you may not expect is the long-lasting effect of a learning-oriented company culture.

With that in mind, programs should support models of continuous learning to meet the demands and desires of learners: today, it might be cloud, but tomorrow, it could be machine learning. Company-sponsored learning events, hackathons, or gamification initiatives can all spark continued interest in learning, encourage participation, and build community.

As you think about continuous learning and future skills gaps, one-off skills training initiatives may be applicable to meet the needs of specific teams or projects, whereas a more inclusive long-term learning strategy for every team member can lead to broader innovation across the business that keeps all employees at pace with the industry.

Establishing your training model for future success

Cloud technologies, combined with comprehensive training initiatives have the potential to transform both your organisation and its IT infrastructure. Equipping your people with a cloud-first mindset and the relevant skills to help your organisation fully leverage the cloud starts with understanding their current knowledge gap. Investing in holistic cloud learning allows your organisation to transform in profound ways, engendering sustained growth, development, and skills-building for the long-term. 

Maureen Lonergan is Director of Training and Certification for Amazon Web Services (AWS), where she leads a team of builders committed to training the next generation of cloud talent. Maureen helps AWS customers, partners, and employees to gain the skills and knowledge to unlock the power of the AWS Cloud in the age of digital transformation.

[1] 451 Research, Demystifying Cloud Transformation: Where Enterprises Should Start, September 2019.

[2] Global Knowledge, 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report, 2019.

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