Amazon Web Services (AWS) is expanding its cloud computing skills development and job training programme, AWS re/Start, across the UK and Ireland.

With the launch of new cohorts in Belfast and Cardiff reaching learners in Northern Ireland and Wales for the first time, in addition to new cohorts launching soon in Birmingham, Blackpool, Dublin, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle, AWS re/Start will soon be available in 12 cities across the UK and Ireland. At the end of 2020, AWS re/Start operated in 25 cities across 12 countries, and we expect to double the number of cities globally in 2021.

AWS re/Start prepares learners from unemployed and underemployed populations for entry-level careers in the cloud – at no cost to the learner. The full time, 12-week, skills-based training programme covers fundamental and transferable AWS Cloud skills, alongside practical career skills.

The programme helps to prepare participants for entry-level cloud roles such as cloud operations, site reliability, infrastructure support, and technical-adjacent business support functions. On completion of the programme, graduates are connected with potential employers.

A ‘change your life’ programme

AWS re/Start focuses on diverse learner audiences – for example, young people, military veterans, or those made redundant from non-tech careers – with the aim of providing a meaningful impact on their career prospects. The programme is designed to accommodate differing levels of experience – even those with no previous technical knowledge can apply.

graduation ceremony aws reStart
Recent AWS re/Start London cohort celebrates graduation online

“AWS re/Start is more than a training programme – it’s also a ‘change your life’ programme,” explains Tejas Vashi, Global Leader for AWS re/Start. “We work with populations who are unemployed, or underemployed, reskilling them and connecting them to real job opportunities. Our aim is to reach different groups who wouldn’t otherwise have a pathway to technology careers.”

Nazar Razak is just one example of this. After leaving school in London aged 18, the early years of Nazar’s career were unstable until he took part in AWS re/Start. Now in his mid-20s, Nazar is a Cloud Infrastructure Engineer for The Financial Times, where he excels in Python coding and enjoys an agile work culture that is enabling him to build a long-term career in technology.

Janine O’Connor is another example of the programme’s impact. After helping young people find jobs, she found herself unemployed. She was interested in launching a career in technology and working towards becoming a software engineer. After completing the AWS re/Start programme in London, she is now an Associate Consultant at ECS helping to develop contact centres in the cloud using AWS.

The programme also benefits employers by expanding the availability of trained staff. For example, Michael Fordham, UK Platform Capability Lead at Manchester-based technology consultancy BJSS, has overseen the recruitment and development of ex-military graduates from AWS re/Start.

“The alumni that we have recruited from the AWS re/Start programme are delivering solutions for our clients, and they contribute significantly to our organisation internally,” Michael explains. “It’s a testament to these recruits that we’re expanding the idea and looking at other ways to attract more diverse candidates, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Christopher Livermore, Head of Operations at Centrica Hive, also explained the benefits: “The training received by AWS re/Start graduates saved me considerable time as a manager. They came into the job with the background knowledge and fundamental understanding required to take challenges specific to Hive and run with them.”

Rob Greenwood, CTO & Co-Founder at Steamhaus, said: “As an AWS consultancy, it can be incredibly difficult to continually find skilled engineers with suitable knowledge and experience in the technologies we work with. Therefore, being able to rely on the AWS re/Start programme to provide us with enthusiastic, capable people who are eager to learn and progress in their careers has been absolutely invaluable to us as a business. So much so that over the past 18 months, we have built a large part of our recruitment pipeline around the AWS re/Start programme.”

Collaborating across the UK and Ireland to diversify tech talent

AWS works with a number of collaborating organisations across the UK and Ireland to deliver the AWS re/Start programme and build an inclusive, alternative, and diverse pipeline of new, in-demand cloud talent across a broad range of underrepresented groups.

For example, AWS is working with TechTalent Academy to boost skills regionally in Birmingham, Newcastle, Leeds, and Bristol. Founded by Janice Rae, the organisation is on a mission to create a fair and fit-for-purpose tech industry where everybody with talent can thrive. TechTalent Academy is also working with Innovation City Belfast to deliver AWS re/Start in Belfast.

In Blackpool and the North East, Primed Talent is working to address challenges in the talent supply chain in order to ensure employers can access a workforce with the right skills for current and future industrial cycles.

In Cardiff, AWS is working with collaborating organisation DevOps Group with a focus on unemployed and underemployed individuals, while in Manchester, collaborating organisation IN4.0 focuses on championing tech careers in specific sectors, particularly manufacturing and engineering.

Generation is a collaborating organisation that works with the Prince’s Trust and AWS in a number of cities across the UK and Ireland to recruit, train and place underrepresented young people into career-launching jobs.

Why is AWS committed to cloud skills training?

Cloud computing is one of the most significant technological advances of our time, and it has become vital for businesses in the UK and Ireland.

In fact, a report published by economic consultancy Public First reveals that companies running on the cloud are nearly three times as likely to be growing over 5 percent a year compared to those not on the cloud. So it’s no surprise that, according to LinkedIn, cloud computing skills were among the top three most in-demand skills for employers in the past 3 years – particularly in the context of COVID-19, which prompted businesses to move online and led to soaring demand for cloud skills and training.

If the UK and Ireland are to realise the true potential of cloud computing, greater investment in people and skills is absolutely vital.

For example, according to the Public First report, boosting cloud prevalence in North East England to match London could help boost productivity and wages by 2.6% - the equivalent to £1.4 billion, or three years’ of pay rises in one go.

How can employers get involved with AWS re/Start?

AWS re/Start is already available in 16 countries around the world, and forms a part of our commitment to help 29 million people around the world grow their tech skills with free cloud computing training by 2025. Countries include Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kenya, the Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, UK, and the US.

As well as eager learners from all walks of life, AWS is also looking for employers to get involved by bring on AWS re/Start graduates to their team.

To find out about how your business can get involved, fill out an employer interest form or contact us directly to find out more.

To learn more about the AWS re/Start programme or apply to an upcoming cohort, visit the AWS re/Start website.