Amazon’s cloud storage business AWS has been gradually expanding into a range of cloud services for people not to simply host their business or app with AWS, but to use the platform for productivity and their own work purposes, too. Today came the latest development on that theme: AWS launched re:Start, a new program for IT skills training, specifically in cloud computing, and job placement for young adults and military vets and their spouses, which Amazon has built in partnership with the UK’s Ministry of Defence, the Prince’s Trust, and QA Consulting.
The new service was announced earlier today during an event in London and will start its first intake on March 27 of this year, the company said. The courses will actually take place at physical training facilities, in London and likely at QA offices. The first for military vets will be in Manchester, Travel will be covered for those who have to go to another city.
Amazon says that initially the plans are to roll out re:Start in the UK only, although it will evaluate future plans.
As AWS describes it on its website, “re:Start is a training and job placement program, launched by Amazon Web Services, for the UK to educate young adults as well as military veterans, reservists, and their spouses, on the latest software development and cloud computing technologies.”
Skills will include technical training classes; cloud computing and how to architect, design, and develop cloud-based applications using AWS; how to set up new cloud environments; and to build apps in languages like Python.
The training will be built with companies like QA Consulting and the Micro:bit Foundation (the micro:bit is a learn-to-code device from the BBC, and there will be content made for it); and for work placements, the program taps into AWS’s Partner Network as well as customers of the AWS platform (which is a huge list: AWS is one of the go-to cloud services companies globally).
Initially, AWS said that it will offer work placements for 1,000 people via re:Start. Some of the organizations that will be offering placements include accounting company Sage, insurance company Direct Line and lending platform Funding Circle.
Education — specifically skills training — is not a new area for Amazon’s AWS. The company also runs a program called AWS Educate aimed at educators and students, providing them “with the resources needed to greatly accelerate cloud-related learning and help students prepare for a cloud-enabled workplace.”
Educate provides a template for how re:Start is likely to be run: Educate offers training materials, collaboration tools, and credits to use cloud services for free — all to be used and redeemed on AWS’s platform. More widely, Amazon has been making a big push to position itself as a go-to platform for educational services.
The new site also raises another interesting point: it opens up a new area of competition between Amazon and Microsoft, this time the area of online education. This is already an area where Microsoft is active. Last year, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, and LinkedIn has been building up its own platform for skills training (by way of its Lynda acquisition) and linking online, LinkedIn-based skills training with job placements. Microsoft also, of course, owns Azure, which competes very directly with AWS.
But even with both companies, and many, many more, all looking to be the go-to platform for cloud-based tech training, it’s a large opportunity that will take some effort to be tapped dry: today, Gavin Jackson, Amazon’s UK MD for AWS, noted a recent study that said that in the UK alone, some 93% of organizations are having problems finding people who have the necessary IT skill set for jobs that need filling.
“Increasing digital skills in the UK is a major priority for the Government and we are working to make sure that everyone has the skills they need,” said Karen Bradley, UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport. “We welcome the launch of AWS re:Start which is a fantastic initiative bringing together employers from different sectors and providing the foundation on which they can continue to train and grow the UK’s digital workforce.”
And you have to wonder why we don’t see more programs like this from the tech sector. At a time when many young people still may not consider higher education, but have not had the necessary training for the jobs of today and tomorrow when still in school, providing them with opportunities like this to pick up those IT skills outside of a formal education system is becoming ever more crucial.
And in the case of military personnel and their families, who may have had to be uprooted several times in the course of several years, it can be one option for helping them out as they make the transition into civilian life.