Texas launches statewide effort to upskill and reskill workforce with AWS
A record number of Texans lost their jobs and filed initial claims for unemployment benefits throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In this challenging job market, many of these individuals lacked the skills to quickly reenter the workforce to secure employment with employers with open roles.
In fact, the unemployment rate for individuals with a high school diploma or less remains significantly higher in Texas than for individuals with post-secondary credentials. This is especially challenging among low-income learners and people of color. As the current provider of more than 90% of credit-bearing career and technical education certificates, Texas community colleges are well positioned to help close the skills gaps through upskilling and reskilling and enable access to jobs across the state. With support from the Texas State Legislature, the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) is launching a new statewide effort called the Texas Reskilling and Upskilling through Education (TRUE) initiative.
AWS cloud skills demand in Texas
According to LinkedIn, cloud computing has remained one of the most in-demand hard skills for the past five years, and two Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certifications appear on the top 10 highest paying certifications list by Global Knowledge (2020). Data from Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) identified 348,709 unique job postings in Texas requesting cloud computing skills in 2020, and more than 13 percent of those jobs specifically requested AWS skills. Only a select number of Texans currently hold an AWS Certification, creating a significant skills gap for local employers interested in hiring technical talent to fill open roles, and it’s only getting more difficult to find qualified talent.
To address this skills gap and work towards the goals of the TRUE initiative, AWS and the TACC announced a statewide collaboration committed to equipping Texas community colleges with professional development, technical training, and certification exams for those educators, instructors, and faculty who will begin implementing the AWS Academy program starting next fall, to enable every publicly-funded high school, career-college, community college, and university in the state to implement the AWS Academy program. This program will provide access to cutting-edge cloud skills education materials, labs, and certifications for all types of learners interested in cloud careers: from career-entrants to those needing to upskill or reskill to pursue a new career direction.
With that in mind, the TACC and AWS have set a collaborative goal to train and certify at least 50,000 students in AWS Cloud skills by December 31, 2023. AWS and TACC are committed to collaborating together to ensure that this statewide implementation of cloud skills education is fully aligned with the goals and intention of the Texas Reskilling and Upskilling through Education (TRUE) initiative and related grant funding.
“Texas proudly boasts the best workforce in America, and we’re pleased to partner with AWS on this initiative that will reinforce Texas’ efforts to build and train the workforce of the future,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “As Texas continues to attract more high-tech jobs to the state, this collaboration will help provide Texans with the education and skills they need to secure good-paying jobs and provide for their families.”
“Community colleges have become unique centers for workforce development, providing specialized training that helps learners develop specific skills to meet industry needs,” said Kim Majerus, leader, US education, state and local government at AWS. “Cloud technology is helping all industries and sectors rapidly innovate, and community colleges can serve as a hub to help learners continue to advance their skills. With Governor Abbott’s leadership, we are thrilled to collaborate with TACC and Texas Education Agency (TEA) as we invest together in the current and future workforce of the great state of Texas.”
AWS education programs and instructor training
AWS Academy provides education institutions with ready-to-teach, cloud computing curriculum that prepares students for industry-recognized AWS Certifications (such as the AWS Cloud Practitioner and the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate) to qualify for local in-demand AWS cloud jobs. All publicly-funded high schools and higher education institutions across the state are invited to participate in AWS Academy under this statewide collaboration.
To support each interested education institution, AWS has committed to provide no cost professional development and technical training, as well as a select number of no cost certification exams for those educators, instructors, and faculty who are committed to begin teaching cloud computing courses to their students by the fall of 2022.
What do local employers think about cloud skills education?
“The Texas Reskilling & Upskilling through Education (TRUE) initiative aims to prepare all interested students for in-demand careers, accelerating their transition to work while also building an enduring education infrastructure to support a thriving Texas economy throughout the diverse regions of the state,” said Jacob Fraire, president of the TACC. “Our colleges are thrilled to work with AWS and their local customers to bolster our talent pipeline of cloud-ready professionals.”
Local Texas employer organizations are actively engaging in coordinating with the state and local education and workforce leaders. “Digital skills in emerging fields such as cloud computing on AWS are increasingly needed by employers in the Houston region. Short-term credential programs created by the industry and delivered by our local schools ensure students can develop the skills and abilities employers need,” said Peter Beard, senior vice president (SVP) of the Greater Houston Partnership. “Through the TRUE initiative, community colleges, in partnership with our local high schools, are essential to developing the workforce Texas needs today and into the future.”
“Increasing the supply of skilled cloud talent for our local high-tech workforce is a key focus for the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC),” said Elizabeth Caudill McClain, vice president of education and workforce at DRC. “As we look to recover from the pandemic, ensuring that all North Texans have access to training in high-demand careers that pay living wages will quickly get displaced workers and under-employed workers back on track in our growing economy.”
Where else can I find AWS education and certification?
This Texas initiative works toward AWS’s commitment to skill, upskill, and reskill individuals around the world. Learn about similar initiatives in Utah, Virginia, Louisiana, the United Kingdom, Bahrain, and India.
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