AWS Public Sector Blog

Bridging the cloud skills gap across Asia Pacific and Japan with AWS

The Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region is riding a wave of innovation, which relies heavily on a digital workforce equipped to meet the rising demand for cloud computing. The region’s prosperity requires a strong digital workforce and tech professionals with relevant and current digital skills to keep up with the pace of change.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is deeply invested in helping to address our digital skills challenge. Today, AWS announced that we have trained more than two and a half million people across APJ with cloud skills since 2017. To accelerate this further, we launched AWS Skill Builder, a digital learning experience available in more than 200 countries and territories, which will provide free skills training to millions of people around the world. Anyone with an internet connection and a desire to learn can quickly and easily access over 500 free on-demand courses—including nearly 60 new cloud computing classes added in the past year. AWS Skill Builder is designed to meet different learning goals and styles with some content offered up to 16 languages, including Bahasa Indonesia, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. The launch of AWS Skill Builder is part of Amazon’s investment of hundreds of millions of dollars to provide free cloud computing skills training to 29 million people around the world by 2025.

To meet the rising demand for digitally skilled workers, APJ’s current workforce needs to evolve over the next five years. According to the study commissioned by AWS, “Unlocking APAC’s Digital Potential: Changing Digital Skill Needs and Policy Approaches,” by the strategy and economics consulting firm AlphaBeta, a five-fold increase in the number of workers with digital skills in six APJ countries is needed just to meet demand by 2025. And while public and commercial sector organizations worldwide know that reskilling is urgently required, there is still work to do in driving skills development programs.

Creating a culture of lifelong digital learning

We believe in creating a culture of lifelong learning for the current and future workforce by collaborating with education institutions and the public sector to provide access for anyone to develop cloud computing and digital skills. Cloud training can help professionals in non-tech fields use new skills to help make the world a better place.

One trend we are seeing is an increased focus from academic institutions to incorporate digital skills in their degrees. Professor Yujin Lim at Sookmyung Women’s University (SMU) in Seoul, South Korea, helped integrate an AWS Cloud curriculum into their engineering school. SMU now offers cloud computing education both for engineers and non-engineers, and to all university staff, using AWS resources.

We’re also working with high school students to inspire interest in technology. Laptops for Builders is a free program in Indonesia that teaches high school and vocational students about cloud fundamentals and provides access to technology for hands on practice. Sri Mintarsih Fatimah, a teacher in Yogyakarta, taught students to develop their own platforms, create websites, and build online games.

Local solutions to local issues

Solving our digital skills challenge requires a local approach to drive impact. For example, the AWS re/Start program focuses on helping people from underrepresented backgrounds build careers in technology at a hyperlocal level. Today we announced that the AWS re/Start program has more than tripled the number of cities where it is available—from 25 cities in 12 countries in 2020 to 95 cities in 38 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, and India.

On average, AWS re/Start connects more than 90% of graduates with job interview opportunities. In India, the program helped Dada Gore, who was unable to return to her mechanical engineer job at United Arab Emirates during the pandemic. After taking numerous online courses to learn more about cloud computing, she signed up for the AWS re/Start program to dive deeper and build a strong foundation to kick start her career in the IT industry.

Those with some digital skills can build their expertise too. Build On is an annual hackathon for students and cloud enthusiasts with coding skills in Southeast Asia that attracts thousands of registrants each year. At the hackathons, participants create technological initiatives and solutions to address challenges faced by our participating sponsors. The event is held in eight countries across our region, with participants receiving training workshops and mentorship. In Singapore, one team was able to design a virtual robot that allowed doctors and nurses to direct it to pick up medicine and bring it to a patient.

Sparking an interest in digital technology often needs just a small nudge. AWS in Japan is providing an engaging way to stimulate students’ interest in robotics and cloud technology with the Robot Delivery Challenge, an engaging robotics skills competition that challenges students to program an autonomous vehicle to deliver luggage around a miniaturized city.

And to help reduce the gender disparity in the tech field, AWS designed GetIT, an initiative to encourage girls aged 12-13 to consider a career in tech. GetIT invites teams from different schools to an app-building competition to solve real issues faced by their school or community. In October, we piloted this program for the first time in Asia in Singapore. The program is currently running virtually at Cedar Girls’ Secondary School, with support from women leaders at AWS.

Collaboration will drive our digital economy forward

Bringing together all segments of the ecosystem – educators, government, industry, and the broader community – is the only way we can take on the immense challenge of making sure organisations have access to the skills they need to make rapid adaptation possible, and work towards rebuilding resilient businesses for the future economy.

We need to move beyond business as usual, and create the conditions for success where skills can be acquired in hours, and credentials acquired within days. To achieve our innovation goals and upskill our workforce, we need commitments from governments, employers, and workers to develop a culture of lifelong learning. There is immense untapped potential for those in the non-tech workforce to develop their digital skills and, along with their current experience and skills, create transformative advancements in our communities and society.

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