Western Cape to get AWS skills development centre

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 07 Dec 2022
The AWS Skills Centre in the US.
The AWS Skills Centre in the US.

US-based multi-national cloud computing giant Amazon Web Services (AWS) is preparing to open a skills development centre in the Western Cape next year, as part of its commitment to provide IT training opportunities on the continent.

The new facility will form part of the cloud computing giant’s initiatives established in efforts to bridge the technical skills gap through existing AWS-designed programmes, to help individuals earn AWS Certification.

This comes as the company continues to expand its cloud regions across the globe.

In 2020, AWS opened its first infrastructure region in Africa, with the establishment of the AWS data centre location in Cape Town. It is looking to further boost local operations, announcing plans to launch a new local zone in Johannesburg in the near future.

AWS operates 96 cloud availability zones within 30 geographic regions. AWS local zones are infrastructure deployments that place compute, storage, database and other select AWS services close to large population and industry centres.

During a media briefing held last week on the sidelines of AWS re:Invent 2022, in Las Vegas, Tanuja Randery, MD and VP of AWS, Europe, Middle East and Africa, provided an update on the firm’s training efforts.

Randery explained that in 2020, AWS committed to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to help 29 million people globally attain technical skills by 2025, though its free cloud computing skills training courses.

Amid the huge growth of cloud services in Africa, the company is intentional about offering training and upskilling programmes that can lead to the creation of new jobs in the technology field.

The imminent Cape Town-based training facility would be a walk-in centre that provides free cloud computing skills training to people from all walks of life and all levels of knowledge, said Randery.

“I’m impressed by the cloud adoption rate in Africa because, since we launched our region in 2020, the growth has been phenomenal. But what’s holding back further cloud adoption in the region is lack of skills, among other factors.”

“The World Economic Forum has said 97 million new jobs will be created by 2025, as a result of cloud computing and digitalisation, and that’s great, but we don’t have 97 million people trained to do those jobs yet.

“And we know that the value to be derived from this opportunity is through digital skills training. That gives you an indication of the vast IT skills shortage problem and it's not changing fast enough.

“AWS has skills development centres around the world, and the South African centre will allow anyone who needs AWS skills training to walk in and receive training.”

According to the 2022 JCSE-IITPSA ICT Skills Survey, the struggle to fill tens of thousands of ICT vacancies in SA persists, with hundreds of unfilled vacancies forsoftware developers, computer network and systems engineers, ICT systems analysts, ICT security specialists and developers.

Tanuja Randery, MD and VP of Amazon Web Services, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Tanuja Randery, MD and VP of Amazon Web Services, Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Last year, AWS expanded its AWS re/Start programme to six African regions – South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal and Rwanda – to deliver more free training and skills development for those interested in entering careers in cloud computing.

Since the organisation’s 2020 target to train 29 million people globally, AWS has already upskilled 13 million people globally with AWS Certification, with 75 000 of those based in Sub-Saharan African countries – representing a 40% year-on-year growth in the number of trained participants, Randery added.

AWS currently has skills centres in Seattle and Arlington, US, with plans to open more in the new year.

The centres allow members of the community and anyone interested in cloud, to enrol for free foundational cloud training and explore cloud careers. AWS instructors lead live training sessions, enabling participants from all backgrounds to explore cloud career possibilities.

Participants can also engage in interactive exhibitions in the Cloud Discovery Space, which demonstrates how the cloud enables real-world experiences, like robotics, space, machine learning, gaming and smart homes. AWS says its skills centres also host career networking events with local employers and organisations.

In SA, AWS has partnerships with Absa, Standard Bank and Wipro, among others, to train their employees through the AWS Skills Guild, an enablement educational online programme that helps large enterprises build cloud skills via the AWS learning platform.

“We remain focused on Africa because our customers −such as Standard Bank and Absa and so many others −remain keen on stepping up efforts in driving skills development through our partnerships to upskill their employees.

“Gartner research shows the highest cloud adoption rate is currently happening in Africa, Turkey and Western Europe. So, it's more about where companies are in their maturity cycle of tech adoption and less about the availability of these technologies in the regions.

“Italy, Liberia and Germany are a little bit more behind and more focused on hardware adoption than software. In the UK, where there is a lot of consumption of digital media and entertainment, you see a much bigger adoption of emerging technologies.”