Sky Group Upskills Workforce, Improves Time to Market Using AWS Training and Certification Program
Sky Group Ltd. (Sky), a multinational media company based in the United Kingdom, wanted to improve efficiency in the cloud and deploy solutions faster, so it began increasing its adoption of Amazon Web Services (AWS). Demand grew rapidly from across the company for training and certifications on AWS.
To meet this demand across all its territories and business units, Sky turned to AWS Training and Certification, which helps organizations build and validate their skills so that they can get more out of the cloud. The AWS Training and Certification program, customized for Sky, provided a uniform structure and clear goals for all participating employees and helped Sky teams to deploy safe, secure solutions in the cloud more effectively.
AWS Certification benefits are shown in the way that teams are deploying services in a more effective, secure way.”
Lead Cloud Architect, Sky Group Ltd.
Creating Business Value Through AWS Certifications
Sky has more than 32,000 employees with operations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. The media and telecommunications conglomerate is a division of Comcast and broadcasts to 23 million customers. Sky wanted to benefit from the scalability and elasticity of AWS but realized that some of its teams were lacking the necessary AWS skills. Although Sky had previously offered training in the form of ad hoc educational events and tech talks, such training was specific to business units or departments. The company wanted more for its employees and realized that a consistent and centralized training approach was necessary to develop in-depth cloud expertise across its teams.
When it came time to develop a program, Sky chose AWS. “When you’re looking for an official AWS Certification, who better to run the program than AWS?” asks James Halpin, a lead cloud architect at Sky. “Using AWS is much better than using a third party because we can use the expertise not only from AWS Training and Certification but also from the account team aligned to Sky. This allowed the program to have familiar faces to Sky employees.” Sky worked alongside AWS Training and Certification to structure its training program and validate skills by the cloud vendor. Sky chose certification courses to drive employee commitment to training, and it believes that certified professionals perform with more proficiency and confidence.
Starting the Training Program and Enjoying Its Benefits
The first AWS Training and Certification program was a pilot program and started in March 2021 and included 75 employees. Sky ran internal polls to determine demand for specific certifications, and the two AWS Certification paths offered were the most popular choices. These included AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate, which validates the ability to design and implement distributed systems on AWS, and AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate, which validates the ability to deploy, manage, and operate workloads on AWS. After the initial success of the AWS Training and Certification program, Sky chose to run it again in the autumn to meet the demand for training across its organization. The second program started in October 2021 and included 115 employees. The two AWS Certification paths offered in this second program were AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate and AWS Certified Developer - Associate, which validates the ability to write and deploy cloud-based applications. Each program lasted 12 weeks and combined on-demand content, instructor-led training, game days, quizzes, and tech talks to cater to all learning styles. All participants were given access to a Slack channel that had AWS experts available to answer questions. The Slack channel also provided a mechanism for learners to share their own experiences, creating an internal community, which helped encourage participation and development. Of the total Sky employees who took the AWS Training and Certification courses, 94 percent passed the exams. Sky plans to use the AWS Training and Certification program twice a year with batches of 75–100 employees.
In offering AWS Training and Certification programs, Sky demonstrates its commitment to developing employees and supporting their interests in learning and validating new skills. Motivation of employees to achieve certifications resulted in a more than 100 percent increase in consumption of AWS free digital training. In turn, the employee knowledge gained in the AWS Training and Certification program helped to drive business benefits for Sky. “As our workforce becomes more mature in cloud solutions, our output and deliverables become more effective. This is one aspect of AWS Certification that benefits both the individual and the organization,” says Mark Niven, a lead cloud architect at Sky. “AWS Training and Certification benefits are shown in the way teams are deploying services in a more effective, secure way, and we have seen a significant drop in the number of cloud resource misconfigurations against cybersecurity standards since we started running the program.”
For example, members of the Media Analysis team working on Sky Sport Recap, the real-time highlights application for major live sports events, were certified through this program. The team used machine learning and serverless services from AWS to deliver a production-ready service for highlight generation in less than 8 weeks. The Media Analysis team gained in-depth knowledge that helped to architect an available, scalable, and resilient solution to support its growing customer base.
Sky needs to be able to scale quickly on demand. By complementing its engineers’ skill sets with cloud skills through AWS Training and Certification, the company has gained scalability and elasticity on AWS. “You have to invest in upskilling staff as a balance with new hires,” Niven says. “Being able to upskill when going through digital transformation is critical to success.” Sky’s focus on continuous training for its employees is also increasing its ability to recruit future talent. “We hire people who enjoy serverless solutions, who love focusing on writing meaningful code, and we take AWS expertise very seriously in employee training,” says Vladislav Korotkov, head of media analysis at Sky.
Continuing to Upskill at Sky
There are two paths for the future of training at Sky. The company plans to have an AWS Training and Certification program at least twice a year for specific AWS services to solve skills gaps within its workforce. In addition to offering this 12-week program, Sky will offer hands-on training for specific products and services that AWS offers. In this way, Sky can provide AWS Certification as well as tech talks and education in a more targeted way throughout the year. This tailored approach will empower employees to gain the knowledge that they need when they need it.
Sky found that using the AWS Training and Certification program has helped its employees and the company at large, and it is committed to continuing to use the program for the future. “Being able to bring people together to support each other while learning, to structure the education in a meaningful way, and to have AWS lead in those engagements is why the AWS Training and Certification program was such a success,” says Niven.
About Sky Group Ltd.
Sky is a media and telecommunications company and a division of Comcast. It operates across several European countries and has a workforce of over 32,000 employees. It serves 23 million customers and is one of the largest media companies in Europe.
Benefits of AWS
- Facilitates consistent employee training across company divisions
- Equips teams to meet their objectives quickly and efficiently
- Improves time to market and cost efficiency
- Provides a consistent learning program resulting in higher level of AWS proficiency
- Increases motivation of employees to take training on AWS
AWS Services Used
AWS Training and Certification
AWS Training and Certification helps you build and validate your skills so you can get more out of the cloud. Our content is created by experts at AWS and updated regularly so you can keep your cloud skills fresh.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate
Earning AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate validates the ability to design and implement distributed systems on AWS.
AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate
Earning AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate
demonstrates experience deploying, managing, and operating workloads on AWS.
AWS Certified Developer - Associate
Earning AWS Certified Developer – Associate validates the ability to write and deploy cloud-based applications.
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