Some technical skills remain extremely highly paid.

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Amazon announced three new initiatives as part of its effort to equip 29 million people with cloud computing skills by 2025: IT Skills 4U, the AWS re/Start Associate initiative, and the opening of the AWS Skills Center in Arlington, Virginia.

Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) IT Skills4U program is designed for displaced Ukrainian refugees in need of career support. The program offers training for Ukrainians with little or no technology experience and those with work experience who want to return to the workforce, with the opportunity to obtain AWS certifications upon completion.

The AWS re/Start Associate initiative is an extension of Amazon’s existing AWS re/Start program. The revamped program includes new goals to help the underemployed start careers in the cloud. It offers upskilling opportunities for underemployed individuals with legacy IT skills such as COBOL, SNA and VTAM programming.

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The AWS Skills Center in Arlington, Virginia, meanwhile, is a place for in-person learning where community members can enroll in free classes to learn how cloud computing works in gaming, machine learning, robotics, smart home technology, and space . The center will offer training and resources to help candidates obtain AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials certification and will facilitate career training and host networking events with local employers and organizations.

The Arlington center is AWS’s second dedicated in-person training location, following the 2021 opening of the AWS Skills Center in Seattle, Washington. It will be open to visitors on October 18.

All initiatives in the AWS educational programs are free. The company has pledged billions of dollars to upskill existing IT workers and train new ones to become cloud computing experts, claiming digital skills in cloud architecture and software development add about $6.3 trillion a year to global GDP.

According to a survey of 30,000 workers and 13,000 hiring managers in 19 countries by AWS and Gallup, businesses with a highly skilled digital workforce report 168% higher revenue than companies with low levels of digital skills.

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The study also found that companies with employees who possess advanced digital skills, such as cloud engineering, are 50% more likely to innovate. Companies operating in the cloud reported experiencing innovation over the past two years — innovation five times faster than non-cloud companies, they found.

Not only are tech-savvy companies more innovative, they’re also happier, the study found. For employees trained in modern digital technologies, 72% report high job satisfaction and 72% say they have high confidence in their job security.

Companies are considering ways to harness emerging technologies to drive their company forward: 66% of employers surveyed said that of blockchain, AI and the metaverse, at least one is likely to be integrated into day-to-day business.

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