Customer Stories / Media & Entertainment

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Pearson Upskills 2,000 Employees over 2 Years and Improves Solution Performance by Working with AWS Skills Guild

Pearson drives an in-house AWS learning program to improve performance and efficiency in the cloud and closes the skills gap by opening up new career paths for engineers and attracting early cloud career talent.


employees trained

Reduced times

for incident resolutions

Increased performance

by consolidating tooling and using delivery pipeline best practices

Career advancement

and mobility opportunities for engineers


Pearson, a global learning company, needed to upskill developers after migrating to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Many of the company’s engineers had not undergone formal training in cloud best practices or cloud management. Pearson wanted to create consistency of AWS skills across its teams around the world, help teams stay up to date with the latest cloud capabilities, and increase efficiency and cost optimization. By working with AWS Skills Guild—a skills empowerment program that helps organizations build cloud fluency—to create an in-house cloud training program, Pearson equipped nearly 2,000 employees across three continents to understand and use the cloud better.

Woman typing on laptop sitting on a couch.

Opportunity | Upskilling Developers to Support Digital Solutions

Pearson provides content, assessments, and digital tools across every level of learning. Its digital infrastructure is crucial to its offerings to customers, and the company wanted to maximize the efficiency, resiliency, and cost effectiveness of its solutions using the cloud. After initial success in migrating critical workloads to AWS in 2020, the organization faced rising demand for additional in-depth skills. Technical teams needed training in cloud infrastructure best practices to make improvements and increase productivity. “Some of our predecessor products and services were built in the late 1990s or early 2000s,” says Ian Wright, vice president of infrastructure and operations organization at Pearson. “Our development teams’ cloud development skills had not been uplifted to where they needed to be.” Pearson also sought to offer training opportunities to nontechnical employees.


The AWS Skills Guild team helped us think about how to plan the launch of the program, how to deliver the training, coordinate across time zones, put feedback in place, and track certification and progress.”

Ian Wright
Vice President of Infrastructure and Operations Organization, Pearson

Solution | Building an In-house Learning Program

In 2021, Pearson began working with AWS Training and Certification, which helps learners build and validate skills to get more out of the cloud, to address knowledge gaps at the company. Pearson used the AWS Learning Needs Analysis—a tool to identify an organization’s cloud skills gaps and build a data-driven training plan—to evaluate its teams’ training needs, resulting in a list of courses to be included in its training program. Using the results of the assessment, Pearson worked with AWS Skills Guild to build a custom, in-house learning program for Pearson employees called Learning2Work. “The AWS Skills Guild team helped us think about how to plan the launch of the program, how to deliver the training, coordinate across time zones, put feedback in place, and track certification and progress,” says Wright.

The Learning2Work program launched in March 2021, and in 2021 alone, 760 Pearson employees took part in 49 virtual classroom training classes and where they participated in hands-on learning events. Nearly 2,000 employees have attended at least one formal AWS training session as of June 2022, and many have earned AWS Certification, validating technical skills and cloud expertise.

Outcome | Improving Performance and Boosting Developer Confidence

As a result of the skills-based training, Pearson’s solutions have improved in performance and operational efficiency. Pearson has an internal dashboard that displays key performance indicators for all the company’s solutions, including metrics for uptime, reliability, security, issues, and mean time to recovery. “That dashboard became a scorecard of sorts,” says Wright. “The proof that the training was successful comes in the performance and improvements that we see through the teams.”

Training has helped to build consistency in how teams across Pearson build, deploy, and operate solutions. During the training, the Pearson teams were introduced to the AWS Well-Architected Framework, which provides a consistent approach to evaluate architectures and implement scalable designs. The consistency has provided increased flexibility—because engineers can more easily move between teams—and greater opportunities for teams to learn from each other. Because teams across Pearson share information and experience, the organization can consolidate the tooling that it uses. “By seeding some of that curiosity into the teams, and some healthy competition, our cost efficiency has improved,” says Wright. Additionally, using the AWS Well-Architected Framework, engineers address security and efficiency considerations early in the development process rather than later in testing, and Pearson has improved efficiency, security, and reliability by using delivery pipelines in its infrastructure on AWS.

By investing in training, Pearson has built up the engineering community within the organization. “The training has reignited people’s original passion for engineering and why they got into it in the first place: to build great things,” says Wright. “Now they’re actually empowered to build greater things, and their career paths are opening up.” Pearson has created higher-level technical positions in the company for its engineers, who no longer have to step into management to further their careers within the company. It has also created several full-stack development teams, which didn’t exist prior to training. These teams have learned to manage all the pieces of their solutions rather than relying on a support or DevOps team for parts of the architecture. Engineers’ increased confidence in their cloud skills has also translated to reduced incident resolution times because developers have begun to acknowledge and resolve incidents on their solutions rather than waiting on a support team.

Pearson has set a standard of having 20 percent of employees’ time dedicated to their training and development. Pearson also gives back to the community by building a track in the Learning2Work program for high school graduates and young professionals. The Learning2Work Pathfinders Program provides apprentices opportunities to learn the foundations of cloud engineering through on-the-job training and mentorship over a 3-year period using the curriculum developed in coordination with AWS Skills Guild.

Developing Microcredentials for Skills-Based Hiring

Currently, Pearson is working with AWS Education Programs—which works with organizations to empower individuals to upskill, reskill, and prepare for high-quality jobs—to develop skills-based pathways to entry-level tech jobs. Learners who complete the training will receive microcredentials to validate their expertise to potential employers. “We believe that early-career talent can help organizations accelerate cloud transformation, and we continue to invest in this area. We’ve been successful in hiring and developing our own early-career talent and are excited to work with AWS to help other organizations do the same,” says Wright.

The company also plans to offer more in-depth AWS courses for its engineers to discover new services, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions. “Engineering is a moving target,” says Wright. “We have to make sure that learning continues and that people are given an opportunity to maintain their relevancy in the engineering world. The more learning available to them and the more freedom there is for them to go and explore, the more likely they are to stay engaged, interested, and passionate around what they do.”

About Pearson

Founded in 1844 in the United Kingdom, Pearson is a global education company providing content, assessment, and digital services to learners, educational institutions, employers, governments, and other partners globally.

AWS Services Used

AWS Training and Certification

Learn from AWS experts. Advance your skills and knowledge. Build your future in the AWS Cloud.

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AWS Skills Guild

Build in-house skills and an innovative learning culture.

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AWS Learning Needs Analysis

Build a data-driven plan to accelerate learning.

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AWS Well-Architected

AWS Well-Architected helps cloud architects build secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient infrastructure for a variety of applications and workloads.

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