Head in the Clouds

As we go about our daily lives; shopping online, video conferencing and switching on Netflix at the end of a hard day, what we may not realise is that more than 80 per cent of all the online, gaming and streaming services we use are based in the ‘cloud’.

I recall when the ‘cloud’ term was first coined many years ago, the picture of these large data centres sitting in fluffy white clouds came to mind. Looking back, we knew this wasn’t the reality however, little did we think that this sector would be contributing to the world’s economy as one of the fastest moving and high growth job markets in recent times. Simply speaking the term "cloud-based services" refers to a wide range of services delivered on demand to companies and customers. These services are designed to provide easy, affordable access to applications and resources, without the need for internal infrastructure or hardware.

Cloud-based computing has become a key part of many companies’ digital strategies, with projections forecasting the cloud services industry to grow from USD371.4billion in 2020 to USD832.1 billion by 2025.

According to Indeed.com, demand for jobs in cloud-based computing has surpassed overall demand for the IT Services industry three-times over in recent years. Related job searches including the terms cloud infrastructure, cloud security, cloud architect and cloud engineer grew by nearly 108 per cent up to 2018 with projections of continued growth since then.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a world leader in cloud-based computing, and it is leveraging this future demand, by investing in up-skilling the next generation through its AWS Educate platform. The company is sharing its knowledge far and wide, recently engaging with Perth STEM educator Fire Tech to roll out a pilot program to school students.

Fire Tech drew on their strong school partnerships, including St Stephen’s School as their exclusive northern suburbs holiday workshops provider, to be among the first in the world to put the program into practice.

A group of students registered for the pilot, which will see them take part in a two-day hackathon style Chatbot Challenge this week. Participants were required to complete three AWS ‘badges’ prior to the challenge, and will work with Fire Tech tutors on building their own Chatbot.

The Challenge opens students and staff up to the workings of the cloud industry and has piqued the interest of some of our more tech-savvy minds. Students from Year 9 and 10 are excited to explore the niche programming.

Fire Tech Director Andrea Conte said the sheer growth of the cloud sector made it one to watch.

“We offer a range of coding, robotics, gaming and artificial intelligence programs but the cloud-based arena is something we believe is really important to invest in,” Mr Conte said.

“Chatbots represent one of the simplest forms of cloud technology and one many of us are familiar with from our own website experiences, so it is a great place to start for students interested in learning these types of skills.”

STEM is an important part of the curriculum at St Stephen’s School, therefore providing these opportunities for our students to learn more about cloud-based services opens them up to a world of possibilities.

The AWS program will culminate in students visiting the AWS headquarters to meet engineers and see cloud-based careers in action.

This opportunity shows how integral industry partnerships are. The collaboration with Fire Tech and by extension AWS, assists in opening doors for our students into the future.

It looks like it is time for us to turn around the old saying and encourage students to get their ‘head in the clouds’.

This article featured in Business News' Thought Leadership column. See it here: Head in the Clouds | Business News