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Google embarks on UK-focused cloud skills pilot program with non-profit Generation UK

Google Cloud is embarking on a campaign to help more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds pursue careers in the cloud with help from global nonprofit youth employability program provider Generation.

The initiative, known as the Katalyst program, is led by Richard Regan, partner engineering manager for the UK and Ireland at Google Cloud, and aims to make a career in the cloud accessible to people who are generally under-represented in the field. of technology.

The program took a year to prepare, with the idea coming to Regan following a meeting of Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) at a Google Cloud Partner Network event, where the shortage of people with cloud skills dominated the discussions. .

Attendees shared how difficult it was for them to recruit, train and retain their cloud talent, and the impact this had on their ability to move forward on projects that would allow them to migrate more of their applications and workloads. work. offsite, Regan told Computer Weekly.

From there, Regan came up with the idea of ​​creating a cloud training program that would lower barriers to entry for underrepresented groups, while providing them with opportunities to specialize in Google Cloud technology.

“[It could be] nothing less than life-changing for some when you look at the salaries cloud professionals receive, which is due to the lack of supply,” he said.

The experiences of the CTOs who attended the event dovetail with the observations of market watchers Gartner, who have previously spoken about the detrimental impact that the cloud skills shortage is likely to have on companies’ ability to implement their digital transformation plans in the years to come.

On this point, Gartner released a forecast in 2020 That said, the shortage of technicians with skills and experience working on public cloud and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) deployments will cause delays of two years or more for companies looking to migrate. their on-site workloads.

“We wanted to do something locally, to help grow the pool of qualified people available, ideally tapping into underrepresented groups,” Regan added.

To help get the project off the ground quickly, Google enlisted the charity Generation UK, which specializes in education and training to help people find work in sectors that are usually off-limits or inaccessible to them.

“The program is aimed at participants representing a balance between the sexes, ethnic minority communities, young people furthest from the labor market through no fault of their own, people who are not in education, job or training for more than six months, or those with a mental or physical challenge, who haven’t had the chance to develop their skills,” Regan said.

A pilot program, which lasts 12 weeks, is due to take place this summer and will offer participants access to a mix of technical training and education on the soft skills they need to succeed in the field of technology, as well as access to employment. opportunities within the Google Cloud Partner Network.

Regan confirmed there would be 25 participants in the pilot scheme, but – over time – the scheme would be open to hundreds of students, with tentative plans in place to potentially expand to other overseas territories. in which Google Cloud operates.

“There is already a lot of demand, but we want to be measured [during the pilot programme] so as not to evolve too quickly,” he added.

Over the course of 12 weeks, participants will complete the course curriculum necessary to earn a Google Cloud Digital Leader certification. They will also complete some of the training required to earn a Google Cloud Associate Engineer certification, with the expectation that they will complete it within six months of starting work at a Google Cloud partner organization.

Stuart Wilson, research director of European partner ecosystems at IT market watcher IDC, said investing in cloud training programs that champion inclusivity was a “necessity” to create a cohesive pool of tech talent. to support the cloud migration plans companies.

“Addressing barriers to employment for underrepresented and disadvantaged people is a priority for every organization right now. In the world of technology, which depends on specialized skills that we know are in high demand, it is now clear that training programs are essential to open pathways for new talent,” said Wilson.

“Initiatives like Project Katalyst are a step in the right direction, as they create new avenues and opportunities for broader communities to contribute to these growing industries, by filling this skills gap.”