The CEO Leadership Alliance Orange County is teaming up with Amazon Web Services and education partners to train 4,000 students in cloud computing skills, including a push for more women, Hispanics and African Americans in the sector.
The initiative has introduced education modules and other curriculum at the high school, community college, and university levels in a business-led approach in Orange County.
The mission of the alliance—known as CLAOC—is to collaborate to cultivate Orange County into a premier, inclusive, innovation talent hub.
The program aims for the training and certifying of the students over the next five years.
“We started our programming with high school and community college, but we have gotten interest from universities as well,” said Jasmine Pachnanda, CLAOC’s senior vice president leading the group’s Artificial Intelligence Initiative. “We have started to explore that.”
The money for the program comes from various funding sources, she told the Business Journal on July 8. High school students pay nothing while community college students pay their standard course fees, if any.
CLAOC and AWS have developed a cloud computing talent development framework to help train and certify students and residents for local technology careers.
Beginning this fall semester, high school programming will include a year-long career pathway for careers in artificial intelligence and cloud computing followed by a summer micro-internship at CLAOC member companies.
“This collaboration will ultimately enable more Orange County residents to access high demand, well-paid job opportunities in our innovation economy,” Pachnanda said.
A 2021 study by McKinsey conducted for CLAOC highlights that just 23% of the OC tech and tech-adjacent workforce in Orange County are female, and just 19% are Hispanic or African American.
Orange County companies typically require at least a bachelor’s degree and/or more than four years’ experience for most tech roles, which limits opportunities for 61% of the OC population who do not have a bachelor’s degree, the report said.
Pachnanda said one goal of the CLAOC program is to have work slots tailored more closely to the students’ training and certification—even those without bachelor’s degree.
“There’s a shift that needs to happen on the employer side as well,” according to Pachnanda.
Programs can take six months to a couple of years, depending on the level of certification sought.
She said 50 students have started the program since its introduction January, and expects interest to surge as students come back to school and college in the fall.
“Placement is as critical as training,” she said.
Coastline Community College in Fountain Valley is one of the schools taking part, as is the Coastline Regional Occupational Program for regional high school students.
With cloud computing skills among the top 10 most in-demand capabilities by Orange County employers, the new initiative aims to help close the training gap, particularly for those underrepresented in the tech field, Pachnanda said.
AWS and CLAOC also plan to extend the effort with on-the-job training that local companies can provide through six-week career exploration experiences during summer periods.
CLAOC is a not-for-profit membership organization of CEOs from some of the region’s most prominent public and private companies who are committed to leading change.