Amazon’s latest announcement builds off its previous work to develop skills certifications and similar programs through AWS that focus on cloud computing. Last December, the company launched training specifically targeted at bridging the “cloud skills gap,” including programs aimed at students who currently work in technology roles.
The e-commerce giant has targeted training initiatives that specifically focus on so-called “middle-skill” positions, an industry shorthand for those jobs that require education beyond high school but short of a traditional, four-year college degree. Last year, Amazon announced a six-year, $700 million investment in training for employees, with a particular focus on those in middle-skill roles.
AWS’ program will target a skill set — cloud computing — that was named in 2019 by LinkedIn as one of the skills employers would need most. The program’s virtual format also comes at a time when much of the employee training space has moved to digital delivery to accommodate shifts toward remote work since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers’ training spends are trending in a similar direction; the Association for Talent Development found in a study published in August that e-learning now constitutes 21% to 40% of the median organization’s learning formula, up from 1% to 20% in 2019.
As employers shift talent development operations in the current environment, they may find it difficult to connect with workers regardless of the chosen delivery format. According to a recent Gartner analysis, workers are applying 54% of the new skills they learn on the job, and some two-thirds of HR professionals are taking what the firm called a “reactive” approach to address skill needs. IBM found in a report last month that employers and workers may not be on the same page in terms of organizational support for learning new skills, contributing to a “trust gap.”
Employers may be able to address these issues by providing personalized learning support, enlisting managers in communicating the importance of training efforts, and exploring options such as sponsorship programs, according to industry sources.