In an interview with TheFutureEconomy.ca, the AWS Canada Country Manager Eric Gales shares his views on what the nation can do to boost digital skills and thus the digital economy.
Eric begins by stating that Amazon research identified a gap between the demand for digital skills created by the ongoing digitization of businesses and government, with the resources available for that work.
This is critical to Canada’s agenda for innovation. Like for all nations this is central to competitive advantage for Canada as the use of digital technologies is core to that innovation.
71% of Canadian workers said they were not confident that they were acquiring skills fast enough.
6.5 million Canadian workers will need to be trained over the next few years.
It’s essential for Canadian companies to invest in training their staff, as a result workers are more satisfied, more effective and are better retained.
Impact of Covid 19
From 3m:00s Eric is asked about the impact of the pandemic on these skills requirements and what barriers has it presented to obtaining them.
He responds by highlighting it has forced companies to adapt to new ways of doing business, such as working from home or changing delivery methods, adopting technologies like virtual conferencing. Many discovered they lacked the skills to quickly do so, exposing their lack of preparedness for digital transformation.
This wave of adoption has spanned into Cloud services from providers like AWS, which again brings us back around to the need for digital skills. To help address this need they have launched services like AWS Skills Builder, free e-learning resources for developing AWS cloud skills. They’ve made a commitment to train 29 million people worldwide by 2025.
Training 6.5 million Canadians
At 5m:50s Tim asks Eric to zoom in on his earlier quote about training 6.5 million Canadians, and explore what role a number of different stakeholders could play in helping achieve this, including Government,
Eric states the government should continue to advocate, encourage and enable the private sector to create skills opportunities, and to support academia in feeding more graduates into the tech sector. He highlights how AWS has created tailored digital skills programs for government themselves.
Gender Diversity and Inclusion
From 10m:05s Tim moves on to asking what can be done in Canada to increase the inclusion of under-represented groups into the tech sector.
Eric acknowledges that the IT industry has traditionally experienced a challenge in attracting more women and that technology isn’t as accessible for some social groups as others.
To address this Eric highlights AWS programs including AWS Educate, intended to encourage a wider spectrum of society to enter the profession, and for unemployed and under-served communities they operate re/Start, a cohort-based workforce development training program that prepares individuals for careers in the cloud and connects them to potential employers. This was run in conjunction with the Bank of Montreal, who have offered internships to those going through the program.
Eric concludes the interview by repeating that because the rate of technology innovation is high, the rate of skills development and training must be equally high to match it.