AWS Training and Certification Blog

New AWS Skills Center in Arlington, Virginia to provide free cloud computing training

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The new cloud computing training center is part of Amazon’s commitment to help 29 million people around the world grow their tech skills for free by 2025

image of the AWS Skills Center in Arlington, VA

The AWS Skills Center in Arlington, VA features interactive exhibits like the one pictured focused on space.

Today community leaders, education partners, tech enthusiasts, and job seekers alike received a preview of one of the DC Metro area’s newest neighbors – the AWS Skills Center. Through the AWS Skills Center, Amazon will provide access to free cloud computing skills training for learners, unlocking new career possibilities in high demand cloud tech jobs, regardless of a person’s background, education, or social status. This initiative is part of a larger investment Amazon is making to provide digital skills training to 29 million people around the world for free by 2025, as well as, its efforts to expand workforce development programs and education initiatives in the communities where it has presence.

According to a recent AWS Global Digital Skills study the benefits of skills training are significant. 98% of workers saw career benefits from taking digital skills training including higher pay and job satisfaction, and a stronger sense of job security. Digitally skilled workers also benefit businesses and economies. Companies with a digitally savvy workforce report 90% higher annual revenue than organizations without a digitally skilled workforce. As a result, Gallup estimates that advanced digital skills, including cloud architecture and software development, are helping to raise global GDP by roughly $6.3 trillion each year. With digital skills being transformative for individuals, business and communities – AWS is helping make it easy for people to start learning.

The 10,000-square-foot space, near Amazon’s HQ2, is designed to bring cloud computing to life for learners, by showing how cloud technology powers everything from weather prediction to smart homes. Through interactive exhibits on robotics, space, games, and machine learning, the AWS Skills Center showcases real-world applications of cloud computing and its related career paths. Beginning October 18, the educational complex will open to the public and begin offering in-person classes in its fully equipped classrooms for adults, including those with little to no technology background–all free of charge.

The AWS Skills Center in Arlington is the second dedicated AWS in-person learning space in the United States to provide access to free cloud computing skills training for the community. Like the Seattle-based AWS Skills Center that opened last November, the new facility was created as part of AWS’s ongoing commitment to help provide the technical training for those curious about the growing job opportunities a career in cloud computing can offer. Students will be able to choose from a range of classes, including foundational training about how computers work and the fundamentals of cloud computing.

First Lady of Virginia, Suzanne S. Youngkin and Virginia’s Secretary of Labor, Bryan Slater engage in a panel discussion at the AWS Skills Center

First Lady of Virginia, Suzanne S. Youngkin, Virginia’s Secretary of Labor, Bryan Slater, and AWS Director of Cloud Career Training, Kevin Kelly,. engage in a discussion about the future of workforce development.

Virginia Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater and First Lady of Virginia Suzanne Youngkin joined AWS’s Kevin Kelly, Director of Cloud Career Training Programs, for a fireside chat at the AWS Skills Center to celebrate the center’s grand opening. Both shared their excitement for the new center – given the impact technical and digital skills training can offer local workers.

“The benefits of cultivating initiatives that prepare Virginians for high-demand jobs cannot be understated. The AWS Skills Center will benefit learners as they as they can open new career opportunities in technology and improve their employment and wage prospects. It is also incredibly important to support the pipeline of skilled talent for our local employers that power Virginia’s economy,” said Virginia Secretary of Labor Slater.

In addition to classroom training, the center also offers resources to help individuals earn their AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification, validating their understanding of the basics of cloud computing with an industry recognized credential and boosting employability. The center will also partner with local employers and organizations to offer career networking and job placement events. Local workforce development organizations are invited to use the center as a resource for their customers.

“Working families in Virginia, and more specifically women, continue to rebuild their career and home lives following the pandemic,” said Virginia’s First Lady, Suzanne S. Youngkin. “Increasing the variety of programs and skill training options, as well as ensuring those programs lead to good jobs, will make a profound difference in opportunities to prosper in our Commonwealth and our country.”

The AWS Skills Center represents only one of AWS’s many initiatives to support cloud computing skills training and STEM education in Virginia. AWS has been running AWS re/Start across the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia area for the past 2 years, including working with employers like Herndon-based DLT Solutions and non-profits like Fairfax-based Britepaths to help give people the skills they need to land entry-level could jobs. In 2018, AWS launched a partnership with Northern Virginia Community College to establish an associate degree in cloud computing. Amazon Robotics is funding the establishment of a robotics degree program at Hampton University to help expand the diversity of the talent in this space. And, Amazon and Virginia Tech established the Amazon-Virginia Tech Initiative for Efficient and Robust Machine Learning. This initiative will provide an opportunity for doctoral students in the college of engineering who are conducting Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning research to apply for Amazon fellowships, and it will support research efforts led by Virginia Teach faculty members.

Ribbon cutting for the new AWS Skills Center in Arlington, VA

Ribbon cutting for the new AWS Skills Center in Arlington, VA

We are also working to promote STEM education across the state. In 2019, Prince William County opened the world’s first AWS Think Big Space, an educational lab that provides students, educators, and communities with hands-on technical education and cloud computing training. AWS has now funded 38 spaces globally, including one at Wakefield High School in Arlington County. A new space is slated to open in Loudoun County in the fall and will serve as an educational training hub for teachers in Northern Virginia. Other programs include, AWS Girls Tech day, launched in Virginia in 2018, and which has now reached nearly 7,000 girls and young women ages 8 -24, to inspire and motivate them to develop and pursue interests and careers in technology.

Watch the behind-the scenes broadcast of the AWS Skills Center grand opening event, hosted by Rudy Chetty, with special guests. And learn more about the Arlington, VA AWS Skills Center, its hours of operation, calendar of events, and schedule of classes.