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Universities, Software Giants Partner on Tech Upskilling – Government Technology

In partnership with the tech-training company SkillStorm, a coalition of seven universities and three software companies has launched a program to make online tech workforce credential training more accessible to students from historically underserved communities.

According to a news release, the new initiative, dubbed Upskill Together, is spearheaded by Salesforce, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Pega, and university partners Indiana Wesleyan University; Florida International University; Florida State University; Jacksonville University; University of Central Florida; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and University of Tampa. In hopes of bringing women, veterans and other specific demographics into tech fields, the initiative’s “one-to-one match program” promises that for each student who goes through a training program in subjects like cloud computing, CRM or automation at a participating school or company, the consortium will offer free training to someone from an underserved background.

“For too long, the tech industry has treated widespread talent shortages and persistent equity gaps as separate and unrelated challenges — but in reality, they are two sides of the same coin,” SkillStorm COO Joe Mitchell said in a public statement. “With the support of our partners around the country, Upskill Together match scholarships will accelerate economic opportunity for people from all backgrounds, providing pathways to the skills and industry credentials employers need to support their digital transformation initiatives today and into the future.”

The news release noted that the program comes amid the digitization of daily operations across private- and public-sector workplaces, and as employers struggle to fill vacant IT-related job positions.

“AWS is on a mission to make it easier for all learners to access tech skills training, through our commitment to train 29 million people by 2025, our vast portfolio of education programs, and our collaborative efforts with education, government, industry and impactful initiatives like SkillStorm’s Upskill Together,” AWS’ VP of U.S. Education Kim Majerus said in a public statement. “The intentional effort through Upskill Together will not only help close the tech skills gap, but will also introduce individuals to new career opportunities that they may not have considered without this initiative.”

According to CompTIA’s Executive VP for Global Sales Graham Hunter, efforts to diversify the tech workforce and train underserved student populations are aimed at meeting employers’ growing demands for tech talent.

“Through the first seven months of this year, U.S. employers listed approximately 3.1 million job postings for technology occupations — an increase of nearly 50 percent over the same period in 2021,” he said in a public statement. “The widening gap between employer demand for technology workers and candidates to fill these roles necessitates new thinking and innovative approaches to bring more people from more diverse backgrounds and experiences into the tech workforce.”

Jacksonville University Provost Christine Sapienza said in the announcement that university-industry partnerships will play a key role in upskilling students and diversifying IT-related fields moving forward.

“Partnerships between industry and higher education institutions are creating a new ecosystem for learning. The courses are an experiential, project-based learning paradigm leading to a ready-made pool of talented students for entering the workforce,” she said in a public statement.