Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) was among those in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) to be included in a new collaboration between Amazon Web Services (AWS), according to a release from Gov. Ralph Northam.

Select K-12 school divisions and leading four-year universities also are part of the collaboration that will create opportunities and build pathways to high-skilled and high-wage cloud computing careers for students in all regions of the Commonwealth.

As part of the collaboration, participating academic institutions will use AWS Educate, an initiative to support cloud technology learning for students and faculty. AWS Educate will allow schools to incorporate cloud skills into high school STEM curriculum as well as associate and bachelor degree programs. This collaboration will also help employers throughout Virginia who have a growing need for workers with cloud computing skills.

“The field of cloud computing is growing and dynamic, and we know that for our Commonwealth to reach new heights and remain a national leader in tech talent, we must build seamless pathways from classrooms to careers at all education levels,” said Northam. “This initiative represents exactly the kind of cooperation we need to ensure that Virginians have access to the skills they need for 21st-century jobs, while also helping employers find Virginia workers with the right training to fill those jobs.”

“The growing demand for these skills is clear,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “Since September 2016, job postings requiring these skills in Virginia have increased from approximately 5,000 per month to 20,000 per month.”

Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University are two of the first higher education institutions in the country to offer cloud computing degrees. As a result of this new collaboration, these successful programs will be replicated at other community colleges and four-year institutions, and high school students will have the opportunity to receive college credit in cloud computing courses through dual enrollment and early college models.

“This new degree program marks an exciting first step in a much broader plan to bring cloud computing education throughout the state, as the degree seeks to bridge into high schools and four-year institutions,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni.

“The need for these skills extend well beyond Amazon as a company, or even what we consider the technology industry. Practically every field is growing more reliant on this technology and need people who can make it work,” said VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois. “This collaboration means our students will be at the forefront of a degree program that will help prepare them for high-demand 21st-century jobs.”

“By embedding the AWS Educate program to create a statewide cloud degree program, Virginia is providing students with an on-ramp to innovation and careers in the cloud,” said Teresa Carlson, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “We applaud Governor Northam and Virginia’s educational leaders for providing this workforce development opportunity for students in all corners of the Commonwealth, from K-12 to community colleges to four-year institutions and on into the workforce.”