Colleges don’t teach cloud skills, so AWS will do it in high school

AWS Educate serves as a path for younger students to understand and get excited about the capabilities of the cloud, namely Amazon’s own AWS cloud. At AWS’s Re:Invent conference in last week, AWS announced the company is expanding its cloud education initiative to students ages 14-17.

Obviously, AWS is trying to create customer loyalty early on. Apple did that in the 1980s through heavy discounts and outright gifts to K-12 school students of their respective computers. This was such as influence that, back in my 20s when I was working on PCs and LANs, I noticed a huge bias from students and teachers for using Apple Macs. As a result of spending millions on this program, I’m sure that Apple made billions in shifting customer loyalty to Apple.

But there’s another reason Amazon is promoting its cloud to high-schoolers. Cloud is an essential skill for IT, as well as other professsions. But universities do a poor job in educating students about it. In addition to promoting its own AWS cloud, Amazon is trying to remediate that education gap, not only to help populate a future employee pipeline but to populate businesses with cloud-savvy—and cloud-oriented—employees once these students get out of school

Although there are a great deal of cloud computing courses in course catalogs at colleges and universities, many educational institutions are slow to offer courses in the cloud computing field, according to a new report from Clutch, a research firm.

Clutch identified three main obstacles that may be hindering universities’ and colleges’ ability to implement cloud computing courses, including the higher cost of resources for cloud computing courses, the fast-paced innovation inherent in the cloud computing field, and limited on-campus cloud computing expertise. I was a college professor for ten years, and I saw these self-inflected limitations firsthand. For whatever reason, colleges and universities have been slow to react to the need for cloud skills.

That’s both a risk and an opportunity for Amazon. And for students, too.

Indeed, if you teach 14- to 17-year-olds some of the better tactical skills around the use of AWS, as well as general cloud skills such as architecture and security, you will get18-year-olds who can command $40,000 to $60,000 a year—at the entry level.   That’s sure more than I got for cleaning pools and washing dishes when I was 18 years old!

Should enterprises support this effort, as well as efforts at colleges and universities, along with AWS and I’m sure some other major cloud providers?  Of course. Even if it means that some students may opt out of college to follow the cloud computing money right out of high school using their hot new AWS skills and certifications.  Those will be fewer student loans to pay off.

Is AWS in this for their own selfish interest? You bet. So will be other cloud providers that follow with similar programs at both the high school and college levels. However, considering the benefit to the enterprise, AWS, and the students, it’s an all-around win.

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