BATON ROUGE, La - Last year, Governor John Bel Edwards, in conjunction with Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) announced a collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to unlock new opportunities in cloud computing across the state of Louisiana. Since the launch, Louisiana has made significant progress toward improving the technical skills gap in the state. Each of the 12 LCTCS colleges committed to implement AWS Educate, Amazon's global initiative to support cloud learning for students and faculty across the world. Currently, eight of the 12 LCTCS colleges now offer the Associate of Applied Science in Cloud Computing and the remaining four colleges are expected to offer the degree by Fall 2020. In addition, approximately 380 students have taken at least one cloud course.
The two-year cloud computing degree program is one of the main ways Louisiana is skilling-up the current workforce and connecting residents to in-demand technical jobs. Cloud computing is one of the most in-demand job skills as ranked by LinkedIn these past five years. From May 2019 through April 2020, there were 31,000 cloud related job postings with a median advertised salary of $73K and of which, 3,000 were entry level, according to Emsi.
As Louisiana continues to advance cloud computing and technical curriculum for colleges, providing opportunities for students and residents to pursue in-demand careers is important with the threat of COVID-19 related unemployment. The state-wide education, government, and industry initiative can not only skill-up students, but also reskill and upskill learners wherever they are in their career journey.
"Cloud computing is becoming one of the hottest disciplines in the IT field. Many new business start-ups are turning to cloud computing and virtualization to save on infrastructure expenses, utility costs, and security. Current businesses are changing their IT model to cloud computing as well," said Randy Haley, Program Director and Instructor from Bossier Parish Community College. "It's important students have the necessary skills to implement and administrate cloud computing services such as AWS and the BPCC's System Administration/Cloud Computing degree offers students the learning and skills so they can get in-demand jobs in Louisiana."
"The biggest challenge we faced was to develop a curriculum that addressed the growing need for cloud computing professionals, agreeing on a rigorous, timely, and consistent curriculum across our 12 colleges to provide a seamless pathway for students transferring within the system and beyond." Ryan Pierce, Co-lead of the Cloud Computing Team (Peer Group) from Louisiana Delta Community College said. "With so many great minds in the room, it was natural that there would be some differences of opinion. And while the journey to consensus had its fair share of turbulence, we found a rhythm and settled on what we have in place today after many thoughtful conversations. I was honored to have a hand in leading the team."
With the progression of the state-wide initiative and more colleges offering the degree program, students are graduating with the skills needed to obtain jobs in cloud computing careers.
"The cloud degree program takes the learn-apply-advance approach which means the classes are tailored towards your success in the field. 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, Deglado Community College Associate's Degree graduate, Drexel University Master of Science student and DXC Technology Intern. "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. "A year later, no one could have predicted the world's current circumstances and how technology would fundamentally change our daily lives. 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. The work of our faculty from across the state has been tremendous, and without their commitment, our Cloud Computing program would not be where it is today. We all look forward to seeing what the future holds for our students who earn the Associate of Applied Science in Cloud Computing degree and the Louisiana they will build through technology."