From education to employment

What role can technology play in narrowing the cloud skills gap in the UK as the nation moves online?

Chris Hayman

Cloud computing has become increasingly important to the UK’s fastest-growing companies. A report ommissioned by AWS and published by independent consultancy, Public First, found that more than half (58%) of cloud-using companies say that their business or operating model would not be possible without it, and that those running on the cloud are nearly three times more likely to be growing at over 5% a year than those that are not.

However, if the country is to realise the true potential of cloud computing, we need to invest in people so they can develop the skills needed to make the most of the cloud opportunity.

Cloud computing was the most in demand hard skill for employers last year

According to LinkedIn, cloud computing was the most in demand hard skill for employers last year. With Covid-19 pivoting businesses and consumers online, the demand for cloud skills – and re-skilling in general – has soared.

That’s where AWS re/Start comes in. AWS re/Start is a skills development and job training programme, which prepares learners from unemployed and underemployed populations for entry-level careers in the cloud – at no cost to the learner. The 12-week, skills-based training programme covers fundamental AWS Cloud skills, alongside practical career skills such as communication, time management, collaboration, interviewing, and CV writing. AWS re/Start also covers the cost and prepares participants for the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam, validating their cloud skills with an industry-recognised qualification.

The programme focuses on diverse groups of learners, such as young people, veterans, or people made redundant from non-tech careers, who are supported by professional mentors and accredited trainers. The programme builds a diverse pipeline of new talent and is designed to accommodate differing levels of experience; even those with no previous technical knowledge can apply. On completion of the programme, graduates will be connected with potential employers.

Finding and employing people with the right skill set is often a problem for businesses. In fact nearly 80% of IT decision makers see hiring as a challenge.

As part of the AWS re/Start programme, we are collaborating with a number of organisations across the UK to help create a strong pipeline of talent to ensure that the workforce has the right skills now and in the future.

At the end of last year, we launched AWS re/Start in Edinburgh, Scotland, and we are now expanding to Bristol and Cardiff for the first time in addition to existing programmes in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, and Blackpool. AWS re/Start is now available in 12 countries around the world including Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Ghana, Ireland, the Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, UK, and the US. This is part of our commitment to help 29 million people around the world grow their tech skills with free cloud computing skills training by 2025.

The UK has one of the most unequal distributions of economic growth of any advanced economy

The UK has one of the most unequal distributions of economic growth of any advanced economy. On average, workers in the most productive region – Camden and the City of London – generate thirty times as much growth as those in the least productive areas. Cloud training programmes can help level-up productivity and benefit regional economies.

In fact, if we could boost the cloud prevalence of the North East to match that of London, for example, estimates show that it would increase local productivity and wages by 2.6%, or around £1.4 billion a year in total. Based on recent trends in real wages, that would be the equivalent of three years’ worth of pay rises in one go.

The UK’s digital skills gap could pose a risk to the country’s economic recovery after Covid-19. The industry demand for cloud is outpacing the number of cloud-savvy workers entering the workforce. To overcome this challenge, talent must be cultivated from non-traditional sources. Now more than ever it is important that regional businesses have access to an inclusive, diverse and steady supply of local cloud talent.

Chris Hayman, Director, UK Public Sector, Amazon Web Services

Related Articles