Amazon promises to help plug the UK's digital skills gap with training for young people and ex-military personnel

Lynsey Barber
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Amazon Web Services is supporting digital skills in the UK (Source: Getty)

Amazon is launching a new scheme to help plug Britain's digital skills gap, offering free training to young people and ex-military personnel.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing arm of the web giant which powers businesses such as Transport for London and Zoopla, is launching AWS re:Start to help get 1,000 more people skilled in digital technology.

The firm is partnering with the Prince's Trust and Ministry of Defence on the scheme which will also see connections with companies such as Tesco Bank, EDF, ARM and Funding Circle to get those trained through the scheme into the workforce via placements.

Read more: Google just promised everyone in the UK free digital skills training

"I hope this is only the start," said Secretary of State Karen Bradley, calling for more collaboration between business and government on ensuring Britain remains a leading digital economy by empowering people with the right skills.

“Increasing digital skills in the UK is a major priority for the government and we are working to make sure that everyone has the skills they need. We welcome the launch of AWS re:Start which is a fantastic initiative bringing together employers from different sectors and providing the foundation on which they can continue to train and grow the UK’s digital workforce.”

Research from parliament's science and technology committee suggests that more than 12m adults in the UK lack basic digital skills and that a lack of expertise is costing the economy £63bn every year.

Amazon, which opened its first AWS data centres in the UK at the end of last year in a significant investment in the UK, will also partner with the Microbit Foundation, which is providing one million students across the country with its mini computer, developing training content and resources for them.

"We're not even close to being done in our investment in the UK"

“AWS re:Start provides a platform from which individuals, no matter what their background, will be able to launch a new career and build a future for themselves in technology,” said AWS UK managing director Gavin Jackson.

Jackson told City A.M. the ambition for the scheme is to expand it in the long term and it is open to adding further organisations in future.

"It's a long-term commitment, not a one off. This is just a first target to reach," he said. "We will grow it as fast and big as we can get it."

Read more: Which UK regions are the greatest digital skills adopters?

The tech giant has remained committed to the UK despite the Brexit vote, opening its first data centres in the UK in December and creating new jobs. And even with the latest investment in digital skills, there is likely too be more down the road.

"We're not even close to being done in our investment in the UK," said Jackson. "We're very excited about the UK."

The scheme follows a promise from fellow tech company Google to offer everyone in the UK access to free digital skills training as part of its own investment in the UK.

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