A year ago, in a forum with chief technology officers from our Google Cloud Partner network, there was one topic on everybody’s mind: talent. Or more specifically, a lack of it. All the leaders in the room were finding it incredibly difficult to hire, train and retain top cloud talent. I was hosting this forum and so went away to think how we could best solve this challenge and grow the pool of available cloud-skilled individuals.
In my day job, I lead a team of engineers in the U.K. and Ireland who work with our partners’ technical teams to enable and support them in delivering Google Cloud technologies to our customers. So I was motivated to solve this skills gap. This is not unique to us, either: we know from Gartner that through 2022, insufficient cloud Infrastructure as a service skills will delay half of enterprise IT organisations’ migration to the cloud by two years or more. So this is an industry-wide challenge.
We wanted to do something locally, to help grow the pool of available skilled individuals, ideally tapping into underrepresented groups. This was the genesis of Project Katalyst: to create a programme that would provide equal access to job opportunities for young people who may not have had the chance to go university, giving underrepresented groups a path into a rewarding, well-paid and growing tech sector. Yes, it’s Katalyst with a K, not the traditional C; this is a nod to Kubernetes, a key component of the training. In the recent LinuxFoundation 2021 Jobs Report, cloud and container technologies were ranked as the hottest skill.
To do this quickly at a large scale, we needed to work with a partner with experience in this area. We were introduced to Generation UK, a charity which already does exactly what we are looking to achieve. After our first meeting, it was clear we were completely aligned. Over the following months, as we developed the programme with Generation UK, their drive and expertise has been invaluable in creating the ideal way to prepare, place and support people into careers that would otherwise be inaccessible, all on Google Cloud.
Google already does a lot to make the workplace as inclusive as possible. For me, the Katalyst programme helps us to bring part of that inclusivity to our partners and the wider communities we live in. Growing up, I always thought one day I would be a teacher, following in my mother’s footsteps. While I took a different career path, for me it’s fantastic to have the opportunity, through this programme, to enable life-changing careers, supporting others to learn and hopefully enjoy working with Google Cloud as much as I do, fulfilling, in part, a dream I once had.
The Katalyst programme is 12 weeks long, with the initial pilot running this summer 2022, covering both technical and soft skills training. On the course, participants will go through the Google Cloud Digital Leader certification,and will also do much of the training for the Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer certification, which they will be expected to complete in the first six months of their new roles, once they start at our Google Cloud Partners.
Participants will then get to meet and interview for confirmed roles at our Google Cloud Partners with an expected annual salary of up to £30,000 in London. To grow the pool of underrepresented people working on our technology and the workplace in general, the programme is aimed at participants representing a balance of genders, ethnic minority communities, young people who are furthest away from the labour market through no fault of their own, individuals who are not in education, employment or training for more than 6 months, or those with a mental or physical challenge, who’ve not had a chance to develop their skills. The hope is to then expand this out to other locations in the U.K. and beyond, as well as our customers’ organisations, after we deliver a successful pilot.