When I recently attended my daughter's 6th grade graduation, the principal of her school explained that the majority of the top 10 highest paying jobs right now did not exist 20 years ago, around the time I was graduating from high school. It is overwhelming to think about how to prepare today's kids for jobs that likely don't even exist.
We do need to make sure kids these days have the necessary skills that can translate into these future jobs. With so many of these new jobs requiring STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), the number of graduates who possess these skills is still too low to fill employers' needs. By 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer-science-related jobs available and only 400,000 computer science graduates with the skills to apply for those jobs, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The number of these STEM-related jobs is going to continue to climb as technology makes its way into every aspect of even manual labor jobs, and if this gap continues to widen, there will be a huge problem trying to fill all of the needed positions. The problem is even bigger in lower income areas where STEM is not encouraged, and the schools don't have the necessary funding for proper programs to prepare kids for these careers and skills.
Amazon Future Engineer: Training Tomorrow's Coders, Programmers
Amazon is hoping a new initiative will help fill this gap. Recently the company launched Amazon Future Engineer (AFE), a childhood-to-career program to inspire, educate, and train children and young adults from underserved and low-income communities to pursue careers in computer science. The goal is to inspire more than 10 million kids each year to explore computer science. They will accomplish this through coding camps, online lessons, funding for introductory and advanced placement courses in computer science for over 100,000 underprivileged young people in 2000 low-income high schools across the United States, Amazon says.
The company also plans to award four-year, $10,000 annual scholarships to 100 students from underserved communities pursuing degrees in computer science. They will offer those students internships at Amazon to help them gain work experience.
Four Paths to Success
The program is organized into four groups.
1. Kindergarten through 8th Grade: Amazon will fund free, inclusive computer science online lessons and camps through partnerships with organizations such as Code.org and Coding with Kids. Students and parents can apply for summer camp scholarships here.
2. High School: Amazon will provide funding to schools, focusing on low-income Title I and rural schools, to offer Intro to Computer Science and AP Computer Science courses. The program is already open for applications and interested schools can apply here.
3. College: Amazon will offer $10,000 per year, four-year “Amazon Scholar” college scholarships for individuals from underserved communities who are pursuing an undergraduate degree in computer science. Scholarships are available to young people who have successfully completed an AP Computer Science course and are pursuing a computer science degree at an accredited four-year university. The program is now open for applications with funds available for students starting in Fall, 2019. Students can apply here.
4. Work: College freshman students who received a scholarship from Amazon will be eligible for a paid software development internship at Amazon. Participants will partner with a technical mentor and manager, as well as other interns, to innovate and create new features and services on behalf of Amazon customers. Scholarship recipients will begin their internship in summer of 2020.
By offering these programs, Amazon is clearly trying to ensure that theses talented kids will choose to work for Amazon when they are looking at several different career opportunities. If the shortage of quality engineers and technicians continues to climb, Amazon may be putting themselves in a position to hire the best of the best.