AWS Public Sector Blog

AWS and Mountain Empire Community College bring no-cost skills course and career event to Southwest Virginia

Pictured: Learners take part in hands-on learning at the AWS Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing Certificate Course between November 14-15 at Mountain Empire Community College.

Pictured: Learners take part in hands-on learning at the AWS Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing Certificate Course at Mountain Empire Community College, November 14-15, 2022.

The backbone of the internet is crisscrossed with a network of fiber optic cables, carrying internet, TV, and telephone data that most of use every day. Over a two-day period, 33 individuals mostly from Southwest Virginia took part in the AWS Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing Certificate Course, a no-cost two-day training providing students with lectures and hands-on practice with fiber optic installation and repair. The course was held November 14-15 at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC), in Appalachia, Virginia, and in collaboration with MECC and the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission.

Delegate Terry Kilgore delivered the closing remarks for the event, alongside leaders from MECC, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave, and Amazon Web Services (AWS). The event was followed by a career networking session, allowing participants to meet employers in the fiber optic industry, including local companies Scott County Telephone Cooperative, Penn Line, and Lambert’s Cable Splicing and national fiber optic cable installer Team Fishel.

The Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing Certificate Course is designed to equip individuals from the community with the skills they need to enter the fiber optic industry and learn the fusion splicing skill. These high-demand skills are increasingly needed to build out the world’s data and communication networks like 5G as well as data centers.

“On behalf of MECC, we were honored to collaborate with AWS and Sumitomo Electric Lightwave to offer this course,” said Lee Davis, workforce solutions at MECC. “We’re always thrilled to offer opportunities for students to earn new credentials that can lead to new career paths. It not only benefits them, but also Southwest Virginia businesses and the wider community that can tap employees with these expanded skills.”

AWS has held previous Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing Certificate Courses throughout Virginia, including at Northern Virginia Community College and Danville Community College.

The AWS Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing program was launched in 2020. Since then, it has been expanded across the United States, including rural communities, military bases, native reservations, and other historically underserved communities. Looking forward, Amazon will continue to invest in scaling this program across multiple regions in the US to expand and diversify the workforce. The course is part of Amazon’s commitment to train 29 million people with no cost cloud computing and technical skills training by 2025.

More broadly, AWS has made significant investments in supporting various workforce development efforts across Virginia. For example, the company runs AWS re/Start, a full-time training program that prepares unemployed and underemployed individuals across Virginia and beyond for careers in the cloud and connects them to potential local employers. This past October, AWS opened the AWS Skills Center in Arlington, which aims to offer no cost cloud computing skills training to anyone curious about careers in this space. AWS also supports K12 learners, helping spark their interest in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) through programs such as AWS Think Big Spaces, educational labs that provide students with access to interactive hands-on technical education and cloud computing training. There are two spaces in Virginia—Prince William and Arlington Counties—with a third space underway in Loudoun County.

Learn more about how AWS supports workforce development in the public sector.

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