How can we tackle tech talent shortages?

By Robert Half on 8th November 2021

Case study: AWS re/Start

The tech skills shortage is well publicised, and while the Government is investing in building up in-demand skills amongst young people and bringing in highly skilled individuals from abroad, there is a long way to go in making sure that businesses have access to the talent they need to meet their growth ambitions. 

In fact, more than half (56%) of senior tech leaders surveyed in the Robert Half 2022 Salary Guide are expecting it to become harder to find qualified employees next year, so it is clear that more routes into the sector are needed, and for more people. 

Establishing a diverse pipeline of talent is becoming a priority for every company – which is why we’ve collaborated with AWS re/Start. The programme is designed to prepare unemployed or underemployed individuals, such as veterans, ethnic minorities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, for a career in cloud computing. 

"Diversity is a cornerstone of the Robert Half business, embedded in our DNA by our founder more than half a century ago. Being involved with AWS re/Start is the right thing both for the businesses we work with and for the people it supports."

Tom Golding, Vice President - Strategic Accounts

Not only does the initiative increase the availability of in-demand cloud computing skills for businesses from a wider pool of talent, but it also creates new opportunities for people, helping them to take their first steps in a new career, for free. 

What is the AWS re/Start programme?

AWS re/Start is a free, 12-week, full-time skills development programme. With the support of professional mentors and accredited instructors, learners build programming, networking, securing and relational database skills through real-world scenario-based learning, hands on labs and coursework. 

At the end of the programme, participants will take the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam, validating their cloud skills with an industry-recognised credential. 

How is Robert Half involved?

As part of our role as a placement organisation, Robert Half will provide all graduates in the United Kingdom with access to its e-learning facility, which includes a wide range of additional training courses from technical IT skills to general business and wellbeing topics. 

Each cohort in the UK will gain additional career readiness preparation guidance and advice on managing their personal brands from the Robert Half team. A series of dedicated webinars will also be available, designed to equip graduates with additional soft skills and knowledge designed to help them integrate flawlessly into a working environment. 

Our dedicated team of tech recruitment experts will also help to place UK-based AWS re/Start graduates in their first cloud computing roles, ensuring that each cohort is able to use their new skills and knowledge. 

We’re keen to make sure that the programme can continue to run, so that even more people can be given the opportunity to develop cloud computing skills, which is why we will be passing back 25 per cent of the feeds secured from businesses by placing AWS re/Start graduates to the delivery organisations. 

Talking to AWS re/Start graduates

Zuriel is one of the many AWS graduates who have been placed by Robert Half. Zuriel moved from Nigeria to the UK when she was younger, before embarking on a career in the RAF. We wanted to find out more about her, and how she came to take part in the AWS re/Start programme.

What inspired you to join the RAF?

As a child, I’d always been fascinated about the military and at the same time I wanted to be a doctor – then I found out you could be a military doctor. At first, I did the preliminary nursing course and that helped me to have the foundation to be able to go into a medical career in the military. I used that qualification to apply for a career as a medic in the military. I really enjoyed working alongside doctors and nurses - then I moved on from there into IT. 

That’s quite a change, how did that come about?

I left the RAF because I wanted to further my education. I still wanted to study medicine - I thought I was going to do IT as a stepping-stone, then go ahead and do medicine as a post-graduate. I went to study software engineering got a scholarship towards a Masters’ degree at the same university. Unfortunately, they didn’t have medicine but then they had another computational vocation which I thought was interesting, and ever since then I’ve felt like this is it for me - I won’t be going for a career in medicine anymore.

What did you do after university?

My first job was with Capita as a software engineer, and I continued to work with them as an RPA consultant for a while after that, before I moved into another company. Since then, I’ve been working as a freelance RPA consultant. 

You’ve embarked on the AWS course recently. What made you transition into that space?

As an RPA consultant, I worked with a lot of organisations, especially during the pandemic, that were transitioning onto the cloud, and it became clear that it was going to become a big thing – and then this opportunity came for me to study the AWS restart course. Even though I was a freelancer I wasn’t getting enough jobs, so with this course, I thought I was going to get more opportunities and more jobs. It was very easy for me to decide to go for a career in cloud. 

How were things for you during lockdown?

Besides working as an RPA freelancer, I tried a few careers on the side. I tried leads generation, real estate and even recruitment. During the pandemic I kept myself busy but it was also a good time for me to reflect and look back on things, and look to the future as well. I had a lot of time to reflect on my personality – I’ve had a lot of changes in me as well. 

Did you indulge in any Netflix?

Thank god for Netflix – that kept me sane. It kept me going. My favourite show was Prison Break – I’ve watched it so many times now I’ve lost count. I love that show, I never get tired of it. 

So after your reflection, how did you find the course?

As a freelancer who wasn’t working regularly, so I had a job coach who wanted me to have a full-time and regular job so they wouldn’t have to support me anymore. They recommended the course to me as well as some others. Out of a few courses I decided to go for the AWS re/Start cloud computing course. 

Was it useful?

Oh yes it was very useful. There were so many things that I thought I would know as someone who graduated with a software engineering degree. They teach you to know the foundations of software as well as cloud computing, which is great. You don’t have to have a degree to be able to do this course and be able to do well. 

Was it a big adjustment moving to cloud computing from being an RPA consultant?

In some ways, now looking back, most of the technology I was using as an RPA consultant was cloud based without me realising it, so I already had cloud experience. All the technologies were very similar, so it was an easy transition. 

If you have any questions about the AWS re/Start programme or you are looking for fresh cloud computing talent, please get in touch with Dee Robertson, our Customer Success Manager, at [email protected]

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