Amazon’s tech training chief on keeping skills sharp in 2022

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Linda Lacina, Digital Editor, World Economic Forum


  • Subscribe to Meet The Leader on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
  • Meet The Leader is a fortnightly podcast from the World Economic Forum that features the world’s top changemakers, showcasing the habits and traits effective leaders can’t work without.
  • Maureen Lonergan, AWS VP of Training and Certification, shares the tech training skills that will be needed most in the years ahead and how to keep skills sharp.

Maureen Lonergan knows how to keep skills sharp. In her 25-year career, she’s helped train millions. As VP of Training and Certification at Amazon Web Services, she works closely with her team to scale training for cloud computing solutions, creating programs in a range of platforms for customers, partners and academia. They’ve also developed programs for the public and committed to training 29 million adult learners for free across 200 countries by 2025 in much-needed cloud computing skills.

The need for tech training is immediate, says Lonergan. AWS research estimates that 174 million people across 12 countries will need digital skills training over the next year alone to meet future digital skill needs. Such training can help ensure everything from company survival to staff retention and long-term employability.

With technology’s rapid shifts, however, training needs are constantly changing. Lonergan and her teams must continually update their skills and approaches to ensure that their programs are both relevant and effective. Lonergan shared these strategies in the latest Meet The Leader.

Tech training tip #1: Start simple

Training doesn’t need to be complicated or even expensive. Many companies offer a range of free skills courses to their employees and AWS has developed a library of more than 500 free courses with some modules just 10 minutes long. Some programs have been developed on the gamer’s platform Twitch for people to learn how and when they want.

To get started, ask yourself one simple question, says Lonergan: “How will I be better a week or a year from now?” This regular reminder can prompt you to make a plan to deepen your knowledge or learn something completely new.

Tech training tip #2: Think big picture

To build a resilient career or team, look beyond your immediate projects and priorities and consider what skills you or your team will need to have mastered in five or ten years. These might not be the skills that are top of mind for you at present, but they will be related to big shifts and needs in your sector. Mastering these capabilities can make a company or a career stronger.

For instance, while cloud computing saw massive growth during the pandemic, the training to manage, navigate, and support that new cloud-based reality has not kept pace. While employers named cloud-based skills and cybersecurity among their most in-demand skills in a recent AWS global survey, few workers are currently trained in these areas. Considering how industries are changing can help you select the tech training that will build the capabilities you’ll need in the years ahead.

Tech training tip #3: Make it routine

Time is a key barrier to tech training. Nearly 70% of AWS survey respondents said that a lack of time held them back from maximizing their training options.

To overcome this hurdle, pull training into you routines, making time for it in your day like you would any other meeting. For instance, the AWS Training and Certification team enjoys ‘No Meetings Fridays’ where they are encouraged to use time that might have been scheduled away on other projects and priorities to invest in themselves. Teams are explicitly encouraged to use this time for training – a possibility some staff might overlook otherwise.

For her part, Lonergan uses time on Friday to learn something new each week. In some cases, she’s taken a short AWS module to better understand a service like cloud migration. In others cases, she identifies skills she’d like to improve upon for her overall profession. She spent a recent Friday session with a speech coach to prepare for a Keynote presentation.

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