AWS and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) have collaborated on the first cloud computing associate degree.

Starting in autumn this year, the course will be provided as a specialisation of the college’s existing Information Systems Technology associate degree.

There is a pressing demand for skills in this area, with LinkedIn finding that cloud and distributed computing has been the most in-demand skill globally in the last three years.

Northern Virginia is known as one of the most densely-populated data centre regions in the world and has an extremely high concentration of IT jobs.

Teresa Carlson, vice president of the worldwide public sector for AWS, said: “This is groundbreaking. It’s the first cloud associate’s degree ever. This can and should be a model for educational institutions across the country and the world.

“With this program, we seek to build a strong pipeline of talent to contribute to innovation across sectors in the growing and dynamic field of cloud computing,” Carlson said.

“We believe that this degree offering, and our collaboration with community and vocational programs around the world, can fundamentally alter the role that these institutions play in helping to build and diversify the pipeline of new, exceptional talent in the tech community.”

AWS’ education plan

The course, NOVA says, will serve as a foundation for a career in the IT industry, and will focus on core topics like hardware, security and programming, as well as developing newer skills in IaaS such as virtualisation, server management, storage and networking. It will also look at PaaS skills such as application deployment, capacity provisioning, load balancing and scaling.

The course is specifically designed around skills required by AWS and can help students prepare for professional accreditation courses. Students enrolled on the course will have access to the existing AWS Educate program and get given practical experience with industry tools and platforms.

Ian Moyse, Cloud Industry Forum board member, commented: “The greater alignment that education can bring to a student’s computing knowledge with that required by industry the better. The value is mutually high to both student and the marketplace. New tech and platforms are growing at such a pace within business that there is and will continue to be a high demand and shortage of relevant skills.

With approximately 30% of IT staff expected to reach retirement age in the next decade a fresh new resource of educated and new world thinking minds are needed to continue to transform existing businesses and to build and help grow new entrepreneurial ideas. More skills out of the gate are needed for a plethora of platforms such as AWS, Azure, Google and the languages and tools surrounding them. Who will bring the next Uber or Airbnb to us?”

Governor Ralph Northam commented on the need for these types of skills in the Virginia economy. “A key part of the new Virginia economy is building up our talent pipeline to match our education system, and aligning our training programs around the skills needed, such as cloud computing, for 21st-century jobs.

“Community colleges like NOVA are important engines for workforce development, and this collaboration with Amazon Web Services marks an exciting first step in a broader plan to bring cloud computing education to students across the Commonwealth of Virginia.”