Amazon and L.A. Area Community Colleges Announce Program to Increase Technology Training

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Industries from aerospace to life science are undergoing significant changes, becoming more technology enabled and dependent. This is creating an opportunity to train workers for the many tech jobs that both provide good wages and help businesses compete.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AWS Educate and 19 community colleges in Los Angeles announced they have collaboratively created a cloud-computing certificate, the first such regional partnership of its kind in the nation.

“Businesses are looking to convert to the cloud and take advantage of the exciting tools and resources available to them in the cloud, but they need the skilled workers at these firms to help migrate and make this transition,” said Bill Allen, CEO of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. “And that's what our community colleges are stepping up to provide, with the help of Amazon Web Services and AWS Educate.”

Through this collaboration, students have access to a 15-credit certificate program that focuses on in-demand cloud computing skills. As part of this initiative, each community college is partnering with at least one high school in the greater Los Angeles area, including those in economically-disadvantaged communities, offering concurrent enrollment in the certificate program and other support, such as professional development opportunities like curriculum development workshops and AWS training.

Cloud computing—which delivers vast data capacity to organizations of all shapes and sizes without requiring expensive on-site servers—is widely considered the biggest growth arena in technology today, with LinkedIn highlighting cloud and distributed computing as the most in-demand skill for the past three years in a row. It also opens a world of opportunity for students, in one of the highest paying IT fields.

“This large-scale regional public-private partnership with Amazon and our community colleges is made possible thanks to changes seeded through the Strong Workforce Program,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, executive vice chancellor for the California Community Colleges. “Regional collaboration is a policy priority since no one entity can solve all the workforce needs alone.”

The local demand for cloud computing talent is increasing in Los Angeles County and, looking at the broader occupational forecast, an estimated 2,500 annual job openings for each of the next 5 years across all Information Technology occupations are predicted, according to a forecast by the Institute for Applied Economics at Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC).

Allen, Ton-Quinlivan and others stressed that a goal of the program is to have it replicated throughout California.

“Our industries are becoming more aware of the role they can play in helping our schools develop the curriculum, as well as purchase and maintain the equipment and software associated with this,” said Allen.

There is a defined and immediate need for data scientists, for machine learning experts, for basic cloud computing, and cybersecurity. Occupations in advanced technologies that are data dependent and utilize data analytics and data science are emerging as important components of each and every industry sector. To share that knowledge with our community colleges, state universities, private universities and even K-12 institutions so that they can adjust their curricula to make sure they are creating pathways of learning at the earliest ages and also specific coursework in these opportunities throughout the range of careers. 

“These partnerships have been helping school districts engage more deeply in the development of curriculum to prepare a more technologically literate workforce for the future,” added Allen.

The idea of promoting successful public-private partnerships with education and employers will be featured at the California Economic Summit—which will be held November 15-16 in Santa Rosa.

The Summit's second annual Partnerships in Industry and Education (PIE) Awards, which will spotlight successful partnerships between education and industry, have attracted more than 70 nominations from across California.  

“Industry-education partnerships are pivotal to aligning the educational pipeline with employer and student needs, while meeting the accelerating demands of California's labor market and economy,” said Leah Grassini Moehle, who manages the PIE program for the Summit. “Every region has a success story and promising practices to share.”


Ed Coghlan

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