When Amazon Web Services (AWS) builds its cloud computing infrastructure, including data centres, in a community, it means more jobs, more local investment, and more education and training opportunities for the people who live and work in those places. That’s according to a new AWS Economic Impact Study, conducted by Indecon International Economic Consultants (Indecon), which provides an overview of the scale of investment AWS has made in Ireland since 2012, and demonstrates the positive ripple effects an AWS data centre has on local communities.
Here are five key takeaways from the Economic Impact Study on what AWS investments have brought to communities in the Ireland.
A boost to the Irish Economy
AWS has increased economic output in Ireland by over €11.4 billion since 2012, contributing nearly €2.4 billion in additional economic output in 2022 alone. AWS supports an average of more than 10,000 jobs per year in the local communities across the country. Much of this economic impact relates to the construction, connection, maintenance, and operation of data centres. AWS employs over 4,200 employees directly in Ireland, with more than 3,000 working for AWS suppliers and sub-contractors. According to Indecon, there are over 2,900 other roles in the workforce, indirectly attributable to AWS investment. The report also shows that a typical AWS data centre campus in Ireland supports over 250 full-time jobs every year.
Increased opportunities for skills training
Strengthening education and skills has been a particular focus for AWS in Ireland. For the past six years, AWS has partnered with the Tallaght Campus of Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) on their Data Centre Technician Programme. This offers participants the opportunity to re-train with annual bursaries and the possibility of a paid work placement with AWS.
AWS has also supported the development of similar courses with TU Dublin Blanchardstown, and the Drogheda Institute of Further Education. Every year, 55 scholarships are offered to members of our local communities so that they can develop the skills required to build a successful career in the cloud industry. Nearby AWS data centre infrastructure allows participants to gain hands-on experience with the most advanced technology. On average, across the programmes, students have a 79% success rate of subsequently securing full-time employment in the IT sector following completion of their studies.
To create more diversity in the technology field, AWS has launched a number of education and training programmes for people at all stages of their life. One example is AWS re/Start, a workforce development training programme that prepares individuals for careers in the cloud and connects them to potential employers. The programme is designed to accommodate differing levels of experience – and even those with no previous technical knowledge can apply. The programme is free to the learner and focused on helping unemployed or underemployed individuals launching a new career. Our latest AWS re/Start programme in Drogheda is currently open for enrolment here.
We also want to ensure a future talent pipeline, and inspire the next generation to get excited about a career in tech, especially those from diverse backgrounds. This was one of our motivations for launching AWS GetIT in Ireland. AWS GetIT is a fully-funded education programme and competition designed to inspire all 12 to 14-year-old students, from underrepresented communities, to consider a future in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). AWS GetIT gives students access to a curriculum designed to help build foundational skills, learn about cloud technology, and design app ideas to solve real-life problems. Schools are paired with a dedicated Ambassador, who supports the school and educator and acts as a role model for students. After completing the programme curriculum, schools can submit an idea for a new phone app, designed by the students, for consideration in a countrywide AWS GetIT competition. Finalists have the opportunity to present their ideas to a tech industry panel of judges, and a winner is selected. The winner of AWS GetIT 2023 was Coláiste Abhainn Rí, Callan, Co. Kilkenny; runners up were Bishopstown Community School, Co. Cork and Our Lady's School, Terenure, Co. Dublin.
AWS investments in Ireland have had a positive impact on the ability of our suppliers in Ireland to specialise and achieve the scale required to open up significant export opportunities. More than 3,000 people work for AWS suppliers and sub-contractors in Ireland, and AWS investment has enabled over 500 homegrown suppliers to expand and grow in Ireland and abroad. This includes major construction contractors, mechanical and electrical suppliers, professional services and a wide range of logistics services provided by local businesses.
What’s more, many of those companies – such as Hanley Energy and Danann Air – have become world leaders in their respective fields. Ireland has, as a result, earned a global reputation as a centre of excellence for cloud infrastructure services.
By working with AWS, many companies have been able to develop specialist, world-leading expertise, meaning those Irish firms are now market leaders in providing materials and services to data centres globally. In 2023, contracts won by suppliers and subcontractors to AWS, for the development of cloud infrastructure overseas, increased to an estimated €240 million. That figure is forecasted to rise further over the remainder of the decade.
The economic impact of this local spending supports jobs such as data centre technicians, utility tradespersons, building maintenance, equipment repair, and security. Those jobs help generate induced effects that may go into local economy, shops, restaurants and other local services. This positive economic impact is best understood in terms of the revenue AWS has helped create across Ireland, which funnels into the economy, fosters innovation, and sustains small and medium-sized businesses and local shops.
Support for local schools and community organisations through AWS InCommunities
AWS launched its first infrastructure region outside of the US in Ireland in 2007, and since this time, we’ve been committed to investing in the communities where we operate. This reflects the company’s dedication to being a good neighbour, and ensuring that the benefits of its investment in Ireland are also felt at all levels.
We established a programme called AWS InCommunities, which launches long-term, innovative programmes that have a lasting impact in the communities where AWS data centre employees work, live, and raise their families. From support for primary and secondary school education, to skills training, funding for local youth organisations, and more, AWS InCommunities efforts benefit the entire community.
Part of that work is promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths (STEAM) education for students through a specialised lab in Tallaght, called the AWS Think Big Space.
The AWS Think Big Space was created together with South Dublin County Council (SDCC) and South Dublin Libraries to provide a place beyond the classroom for students to explore and cultivate an interest in STEAM and STEAM-related careers, and it’s the first of its kind in Europe. Since launching the AWS Think Big Space in 2022, over 7,000 students, 425 teachers, educators and youth group leaders have engaged with the programme.
Another example of AWS’s work in the community in Ireland is the AWS InCommunities Fund. AWS launched the AWS InCommunities Fund to help local groups, schools, and organisations to launch new projects or expand existing ones that will benefit their local community.
The AWS InCommunities Fingal Fund supports initiatives in the Fingal area that can make a positive impact across education, the environment, health and wellbeing. The €150,000 fund, which is managed by non-profit organisation ChangeX, has supported 36 separate projects in Fingal and the surrounding areas, like the Stepping Stone Ponds, Foróige Sound Cabin, and The Big Idea. More than 2,250 people have participated directly in these projects across Fingal so far. A separate AWS InCommunities Fund in Drogheda has supported 38 local projects, providing services to a further 5,500 people in the community. A few of the projects that AWS has supported so far include The Red Door Project, an addiction support service in Drogheda; St Oliver’s Community College ‘Grow at School’ project; the Basement Sounds music and arts initiative at the Boomerang Youth Café; and Hands 4 Unity, a charity which has been working with Drogheda-based women from diverse backgrounds to improve their community experience and facilitate better community integration.
More renewable energy on the grid and less water used
Amazon was the first company in Ireland to deliver unsubsidised corporate power purchase agreements (CPPAs) for renewable energy – which means renewable energy is being delivered to the grid at no direct cost to energy consumers.
As for its specific operations in Ireland, Amazon was the first company in the country to enter into unsubsidised corporate power purchase agreements (CPPAs). In other words, it’s bringing renewable energy on stream without any direct Government subsidy. Its first CPPA project, located in Cork, is now fully operational. Other projects, situated in Galway and Donegal, are expected to come into operation in late 2023 and 2024 respectively. In total, these will together add 229 MW of renewable energy to the Irish grid each year – enough to power 185,000 Irish homes per annum.
AWS designs its Irish data centres to meet exacting standards when it comes to comes to energy and water use. For example, to reduce both the energy and water we use in our Irish data centres, we use cooling systems, which predominately utilises outside air to cool our servers. This means that for more than 95% of the year we use no water to cool our data centres in Ireland. For the few hot days Ireland does see, we use a minimal amount of water to cool the air that removes heat from our servers. AWS’s newest data centres in Ireland use as little as 1000m3 of water for cooling annually – that’s the equivalent to the yearly water usage of just eight average Irish households. Moreover, new AWS data centres in Ireland will reduce embodied carbon in concrete and steel through the use of ground granulated blast-furnace slag and “green” steel respectively.
Amazon is committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 as part of The Climate Pledge – 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. As part of The Climate Pledge, Amazon is on a path to power its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of the initial 2030 target. AWS is making progress to meeting its commitment to be water positive by 2030, focusing on efficiency across all aspects of our infrastructure, and reducing waste.
As we continue to reduce the environmental impact of our operations in Ireland, we are also supporting others to do the same. One way we are doing this is by providing the local community excess heat from our data centres.
In Dublin, AWS has worked with South Dublin County Council to deliver the Tallaght District Heating Scheme (TDHS), the first initiative of its kind nationwide. TDHS will provide low-carbon heat to public sector, residential, and commercial customers from recycled heat, supplied from our local AWS data centre. It is projected that the TDHS will save almost 1,500 tonnes of CO2 per annum during its first phase of operation.
Amazon in Ireland
Amazon has invested in Ireland for nearly 20 years, opening its first office in 2004. Since then, we have extended our commitment and investment in the country with locations across Ireland, including four corporate offices in Dublin; a fulfilment centre in Dublin’s Baldonnell Business Park; a delivery station in Ballycoolin; and a hub for operations and corporate teams in Cork. In total, we employ a permanent workforce of more than 6,500 people in Ireland across Amazon and AWS.
As a significant employer in Ireland, Amazon provides a range of roles from entry level positions to highly-skilled jobs. The fulfilment centre has created 500 new jobs including operations managers, human resource and finance professionals, through to health and safety specialists and picking, packing and shipping associates.
To mark our first anniversary of the Baldonnell fulfilment centre, and continued investment in adult learning, Amazon introduced Career Choice to Irish employees, a programme which pre-pays 95% of tuition for courses in high-demand fields, up to €12,000 over four years. Employees are eligible to take part in the programme regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.
As a whole, Amazon in Ireland invested over €4.8 billion in Ireland in 2022, bringing the company’s total investment in the country to more than €17 billion since 2020, according to the latest data from independent economic consultancy, Keystone.
Read the full Economic Impact Study for more information on AWS’s positive impact in communities in Ireland.