Before joining AWS, I spent time in Mozambique teaching preschool, English, and soccer. While helping older students land jobs in local hotels and restaurants, I witnessed firsthand the impact of education and the job opportunities it unlocks. Skills training can help empower individuals and drive economic growth. That’s why I’m so proud we’re launching three new initiatives today to provide free cloud computing skills training that will open doors to new career possibilities for those who will benefit most.

  • IT Skills 4U: Specifically designed to help the people of Ukraine, this global initiative provides free training, AWS Certification vouchers, and career services support for Ukrainians globally, helping both those with little to no tech experience and experienced practitioners rejoin the workforce. 
  • AWS re/Start Associate: We are expanding the multi-week, cohort-based reskilling program, AWS re/Start, to include a new track aimed at helping unemployed or underemployed individuals looking to modernize their information technology (IT) skills to pivot into mid-level cloud careers.  
  • AWS Skills Center in Arlington, Virginia: We are opening an AWS Skills Center in Arlington, home to Amazon’s second headquarters, to continue supporting our local community with an in-person learning space offering free classes to the public.

These initiatives are part of a larger investment that we’re making to democratize access to cloud skills training, and they augment the wide range of programs we currently offer, including more than 500 free courses through AWS Skill Builder, hundreds of hours of self-paced training and interactive labs through AWS Educate, and many other training offerings. In 2020, we committed to investing hundreds of millions of dollars to provide free cloud computing skills training to 29 million people by 2025—reaching people of all knowledge levels around the world. Since then, AWS has helped over 13 million people gain access to cloud computing skills through our free workforce programs—more than doubling the number of people we reached last year and putting us well on pace toward our goal of reaching 29 million people.

Digital skills are transformative for individuals as well as organizations and communities. According to new research from Gallup and AWS, advanced digital skills like cloud architecture and software development add an estimated $6.3 trillion annually to global gross domestic product (GDP). Organizations with high levels of digital skill usage report annual revenues that are approximately 168% higher than companies that do not use digital skills. And thanks to higher pay, increased job satisfaction, and a strong sense of job security, 98% of individuals who have taken digital skills training in the past year say their career has benefitted.

Here's a look at the new programs we’re introducing to help people build valuable cloud skills.

IT Skills 4U: New skills and career opportunities for Ukrainians

Since the onset of the war in Ukraine, teams across Amazon mobilized to provide support. To date, more than 7.5 million Ukrainians have been displaced. We saw an opportunity to help Ukrainians, both refugees and those who remain in Ukraine, access tech jobs, and so we designed IT Skills 4U. It is a free, comprehensive workforce development initiative to help Ukrainians get connected with AWS-designed skills training and career-support services.

An image of employees in the AWS training programs

Ukrainians around the world can choose from a range of AWS-designed courses, based on their level of IT knowledge and learning goals. Course offerings range from cohort-based, 12-week programs to digital on-demand training, which learners can take at their own pace. Additionally, we are delivering dedicated, in-person, instructor-led classes in Poland, which has the highest number of Ukrainian refugees. We are also offering free AWS Certification vouchers to help individuals take relevant exams and earn industry-recognized credentials that they can put on their resumes. The courses and workforce resources are designed to meet individuals wherever they are—whether they have little to no tech experience or they are experienced IT professionals looking for additional certifications, advanced courses, or career-placement support.

IT Skills 4U is helping connect individuals to cloud jobs through personalized career support, job fairs , and more. Career support services are offered in Ukrainian, Polish, and English, and learning content is available in additional languages. The program also offers resume writing, interview preparation sessions, and English and Polish language-learning classes. More than 30 AWS customers and partners have committed to offering Ukrainian learners permanent jobs, internships, apprenticeships, and traineeships in cloud computing roles.

We are humbled by the feedback we have received from Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov, who shared this about the program: “Around the world, Ukrainians are perceived as a society rich with high-class specialists, unicorn startups, and amazing tech ideas,” said Mykhailo Fedorov, Vice Prime Minister – Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine. “We see strong potential in the development of the Ukrainian IT sphere and are doing everything to increase the number of IT specialists. The IT Skills 4U project by AWS will help engage more newcomers in IT and develop careers for experienced professionals. Ukrainians will develop the skills needed to work with cloud tech, which are highly valued in the market now. I believe that the future belongs to cloud-based services. We are grateful to AWS for supporting our vision and for training Ukrainians for jobs in the cloud sector.”

AWS Training and Certification is delivering this program with the Poland-based nonprofit ZPP, which focuses on helping Central European businesses thrive and has been actively involved in helping Ukrainian businesses and Ukrainian citizens resume economic activity during the war.

We encourage Ukrainians to learn more on the IT Skills 4U site and get started.

AWS re/Start Associate: Workforce development training program for workers with non-cloud IT experience

We’re also expanding our end-to-end, free workforce development training program, AWS re/Start, which connects 98% of graduates with entry-level job interview opportunities, to now help individuals pivot to mid-level cloud career jobs. Our original program, AWS re/Start Foundation, is a 12-week, cohort-based program focused on helping unemployed or underemployed individuals with little or no tech experience get the skills they need to launch new careers in cloud computing. Now, we are launching a new track, AWS re/Start Associate, to help individuals with non-cloud IT experience augment their skills to pivot into mid-level cloud roles such as systems administrator, cloud automation lead, and cloud infrastructure engineer.

AWS re/Start Associate provides real-world, scenario-based exercises, interactive labs, and coursework as well as resume and career coaching. AWS re/Start places an emphasis on diversity and delivers the program in collaboration with local organizations that are focused on helping underrepresented and underserved individuals transition into tech careers.

Early results from the re/Start Associate pilot have been promising. One of the pilot participants—global human resources consulting firm Robert Half—has placed 10 learners into cloud roles with its clients so far this year. Kirk Schwerzler, vice president of talent solutions for Robert Half, said, “Working with the AWS re/Start Associate program has been a great way for us to source diverse, exceptional talent into hard-to-fill, mid-level cloud computing roles. We’ve been impressed by the level of technical proficiency from the program graduates, in everything from cloud fundamentals to knowing how to design and implement cloud computing architectures on AWS. This program has been a huge benefit across Robert Half and for our clients who are looking for trained talent to achieve their goals and initiatives in the cloud space.”

AWS re/Start is currently seeking employers looking to hire skilled entry-level and mid-level cloud talent. Interested organizations can contact the program.

AWS Skills Center: Cloud computing learning and discovery space for the community

And last but not least, I’m excited to share that we are opening our newest AWS Skills Center in Arlington. The new space is designed to bring cloud computing to life for the local community by showing how this technology is powering everything from weather predictions to smart homes. Through interactive exhibits on robotics, space, games, and sports, the AWS Skills Center shows real-world applications of cloud computing and related career possibilities. Free in-person classes for adults with little or no background in technology will be available in its fully equipped classrooms. Students will be able to choose from a range of classes, including foundational training about how computers work and the fundamentals of cloud computing.

An image from the inside of the skills center
An image from the inside of the skills center
An image from the inside of the skills center
An image from the inside of the skills center

The center also offers training and resources to help individuals earn their AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials Certification, validating their understanding of the basics of cloud computing and AWS technology. The center will facilitate career coaching and host networking events with local employers and organizations to connect people with career information and job opportunities. We invite local workforce development organizations to use the center as another resource for their customers. The center is AWS’s second dedicated in-person learning space, following the 2021 opening of the AWS Skills Center in Seattle, Washington. The Arlington center will open to the public on October 18. Learn more about the hours, events, and class schedule.