Preparing Students For Tech Careers

Washington State Partners with Amazon to Train, Certify High-Schoolers in Cloud Computing

Washington public schools are partnering with Amazon Web Services in a statewide program to train and certify 2,500 high school students in cloud computing over the next three years, according to a recent announcement from the state’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

OSPI said it will collaborate with AWS to prepare high school students for cloud computing careers, including modernizing and expanding course offerings across Washington to train students in artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning, cybersecurity, and other cloud-related skills.

The new courses will launch next fall, and high school educators scheduled to teach the courses will be offered professional development to prepare them to teach the cloud computing classes, OSPI said. Each course will emphasize preparing students to earn industry-standard certifications upon completion of the coursework.

Along with support from the Washington Training and Education Coordinating Board, the initiative “will provide high school students with technical training and education mapped to in-demand skills, paving the way for careers in tech,” the OSPI announcement said.

“Our economy and the needs of employees and employers are evolving, and the K-12 system has to evolve with it,” said Chris Reykdal, Washington’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The announcement marks the first statewide collaboration with AWS focused exclusively on training and educating K-12 students. Through AWS Academy, participating Washington high schools will have access to ready-to-teach, cloud computing curriculum that helps prepare students for in-demand jobs and industry-recognized AWS Certifications. Secondary schools participating in the program may receive free professional development, technical training, and a select number of certification exams for educators who will begin teaching cloud computing courses to their students starting in fall 2022.

“Washington state has been a global leader in technology development for decades. This new initiative will help provide the next generation of Washington students with the know-how needed to take on and create the jobs of tomorrow,” Lt. Gov. Denny Heck said in the news release. “Through this initiative, students across Washington will be able to obtain skills to make them successful and competitive in the global workforce. This initiative also provides an opportunity for equitable, substantial educational development for all students across our state – east, south, north, west, and central. I’m excited that Washington state is piloting this initiative using AWS education programs and building up the diverse, high-skill workforce we need.”

Cloud computing jobs are in high demand across the country, according to Economic Modeling Specialist International, which reported that in 2020, 165,486 unique cloud jobs were posted in Washington state alone, with 88,642 of those jobs going unfilled.

Schools and educators participating in the program will use content and instructional tools from AWS education programs to help students prepare for a variety of certifications, including AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, AWS Certified Solution Architect–Associate, AWS Certified Developer–Associate, and more.

Amazon Web Services’ vice president for U.S. education, Kim Majerus, noted that bringing STEM-related programs to students at the K–12 level will help bolster the numbers of young adults entering those career fields.

“Research tells us that when you spark a student’s interest in STEM earlier in their education journey, they are more likely to explore related careers before even enrolling at a college or university,” said Majerus. “We want to inspire the next generation of tech leaders through engaging and modern cloud computing curricula that have students excited to take the next step in pursuing a tech career — whether that’s securing a job through a certification or advancing their knowledge at a higher-education institution. Washington state and OSPI have created an opportunity with AWS to empower high school students in one of the nation’s fastest growing tech hubs at an age where teens are thinking about future careers.”

The new collaboration with public schools is the latest example of AWS’s commitment to skills training in Washington: In November, the company opened in Seattle a new AWS Skills Center — Amazon’s first in-person cloud learning space open anyone curious about cloud computing, related career possibilities, and gaining the skills required for such careers.

Visit Amazon’s career training and certification website to learn more about AWS education programs.

About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].