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Sponsored Content: A look at Louisiana Community & Technical Colleges’ collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to prepare graduates for in-demand tech jobs

In 2019, the state of Louisiana announced a collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to launch a statewide cloud associate degree program. Built in collaboration with the Office of the Governor John Bel Edwards, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.), and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS), the program provides cloud computing opportunities across the 12 LCTCS colleges.

At the onset, the goal of the collaboration was to unlock new opportunities in cloud computing across the state to ensure graduates have the in-demand skills needed to obtain cloud careers. Since its launch, the program continues to grow and scale. Of the 12 colleges in the LCTCS system, nine offer the associate’s degree of applied science in cloud computing, with industry credentials like AWS certifications embedded in the programs; the remaining three colleges are expected to offer the degree by fall 2021. More than 400 students have taken at least one cloud course. LCTCS and University of Louisiana System leaders are also working to build on existing articulation agreements to serve as a model for seamless transfer from LCTCS colleges to four-year universities.

“As we continue to diversify Louisiana’s economy, tech jobs are making up an important growth sector,” Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson said. “Companies specializing in software, IT services, digital media, advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, GIS technology and other emerging fields have partnered with higher education institutions across Louisiana to create programs that provide a pipeline of skilled workers. Starting with this two-year associate degree at LCTCS institutions, we look forward to expanding commitments with four-year degree programs across the University of Louisiana System, as well as at the Southern University and LSU systems. This represents a great opportunity to help us secure our 21st-century workforce.”

AWS Educate, Amazon’s global initiative to provide students comprehensive resources for building skills in cloud technology, worked with leaders across the state of Louisiana to build the two-year degree program to address the growing number of tech employers throughout Louisiana and the demand for employees with cloud computing skills. The program takes the learn-apply-advance approach, which means the classes are tailored towards success in the field. In addition, other institutions in Louisiana are using AWS cloud technologies to inspire, educate and provide real-world, hands-on, project-based learning opportunities for students to prepare them for future jobs.

“Every step I have taken, every career decision that I have made has been based on a strong foundation of computer science and technology knowledge,” said MacDonald Milanzi, Delgado Community College associate degree graduate, Drexel University Master of Science student and intern at DXC Technology. “Working with many talented individuals around the globe and being mentored by the best professionals in the industry is what I like most. This mixture of cultures, talents, and work ethic has brought experience, maturity, and advancement in my career.”

“When we initially set out to establish this statewide cloud computing effort with AWS, we did so because our mission of workforce development aligned perfectly with meeting the needs of the state’s growing demand for skilled IT professionals,” said Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

But with the realities of COVID-19-related unemployment, continuing to provide opportunities for students and residents to pursue in-demand careers became even more important.

“A year later, no one could have predicted the world’s current circumstances and how technology would fundamentally change our daily lives,” Sullivan said. “The way we live, learn, and conduct business has been changed for the better, and it is exciting to know that our graduates with the Associate Degree in Cloud Computing will help enhance the lives of Louisianans, the nation, and the world.”

With a focus on real-world, applied learning experiences, AWS Educate works with institutions — including high schools, community colleges, vocational schools, technical academies, and universities—to embed cloud-specific learning objectives and hands-on work into their programs to reflect the demands of employers who are seeking cloud-skilled professionals.

To learn more about working with AWS Educate, click here.