Amazon.com Inc.’s Amazon Web Services announced Aug. 9 that it will collaborate with the California Cloud Workforce Project (CA Cloud) and 19 community colleges in Los Angeles County to offer a regional cloud computing certificate. To date, this is the first program of its kind created by Amazon and local colleges.

Colleges participating in the endeavor include Santa Monica College; Cerritos College; East Los Angeles College; Long Beach City College; Glendale College; Los Angeles Trade Tech and Pasadena City College, among others.

Cloud computing is a process by which vast amounts of data of any size can be delivered to organizations without on-site servers, which are often expensive and slow. According to a 2018 Forbes report, certifications in virtualization and cloud computing provide average annual salaries of $112,955. Forbes also reported that Amazon Web Services’ certified cloud computers (which Amazon calls “solutions architects”) make an average of $121,292 yearly.

Additionally, tech research firm Global Knowledge recently published its “15 Top-Paying IT Certifications for 2018” study, which reports that in March 2017 Microsoft Corp. replaced its server infrastructure certification with a cloud platform and infrastructure certification to keep up with demand for cloud technician needs. According to Global Knowledge, cloud technician for Microsoft, for example, must be trained in computer support, information security, and cloud architecture and administration. The average salary for a Microsoft cloud platform and infrastructure technician is $100,656.

The Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. estimates 2,500 jobs will open in each of the next five years in cloud computing, a demand it expects to be filled by local certified community college graduates. It supports the cloud computing certificate program via community engagement efforts and research through its Center for a Competitive Workforce, located inside its headquarters downtown.

The 15-credit certification was created in collaboration with Amazon Web Services and allows students free access to Amazon’s AWS Educate resource which contains job postings as well as instructional content and activities. This curriculum was developed by AWS Educate alongside Santa Monica College, which had to hire additional faculty to keep up with the demand, expanding from two sections to seven within the 2017-18 school year. An additional provision of the program mandates that each community college participating work with at least one high school in the greater Los Angeles area to offer dual enrollment in the certification program as well as AWS trainings for high school students.

“There is a huge growth opportunity in the field of cloud computing, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with CA Cloud to bring AWS cloud-focused education and training to high school and college students in the greater Los Angeles area,” said Andrew Ko, global education director at Amazon Web Services. “We’re excited to see this level of collaboration at a regional level, bringing essential IT education and skills to a growing workforce to meet the demand for tech-focused jobs in L.A.,” Ko added.

C.A. Cloud reports it is exploring the possibility of a full two-year associate degree in cloud computing and is developing articulation agreements with four-year colleges to provide bachelor’s degrees in cloud computing. Additionally, it says it will work with Amazon Web Services to expedite the interview process created by the AWS Educate jobs board.

“We are proud to pioneer high tech industry-recognized training that creates unprecedented opportunity for underrepresented students at our colleges and their high school partners,” said Dr. Francisco C. Rodriguez, chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District.

Rodriguez added he believes the “program will prepare L.A.’s residents for sustainable and high-wage careers in one of the most important fields that is transforming business practices in private and public sectors.”

Tech reporter Samson Amore can be reached at samore@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 556-8335. Follow him on Twitter @samsonamore.