AWS GetIT has been rolled out in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for the first time. The free program is specially designed to introduce more secondary school students aged 12 to 13 – particularly girls – to cloud computing and digital skills in order to inspire them to consider a career in technology.

AWS GetIT invites teams from different schools to participate in an app-building competition to solve real issues faced by their school or community.

Thirty eight schools from Ireland and Northern Ireland have registered to take part – including schools in counties Dublin, Sligo, Down, Louth, Galway, Limerick, Mayo, Laois, and Roscommon - we’re excited to see what creative and innovative ideas the competing teams will come up with!

“The aim of AWS GetIT is to introduce girls to technology and help them learn new skills, and to make them aware of the huge array of career opportunities available in the industry today.”
Mike Beary, AWS Ireland Country Manager

By making digital skills accessible to students across Ireland who may not otherwise have the opportunity, AWS GetIT will provide a strong foundation from which students can learn and grow.

This is particularly important for girls – one report published by the Center for Economic Research at University College Dublin found that less than five per cent of girls studied practical subjects such as engineering, building construction, design graphics and technology. The report underlines the importance of early intervention before girls make key decisions on subject choices, and highlights the significance of mentors and role models who help girls connect STEM to real life issues.

At the same time, skills in areas such as cloud computing are in high demand, and that demand is set to grow consistently in the coming years – meaning many girls risk becoming ‘locked out’ of certain careers.

In 2017, the Department of Education in Ireland published its STEM Education Implementation Plan to help tackle this challenge. The policy statement includes a target to “increase uptake by females of STEM subjects by 40%”.

Building skills for the future
As part of AWS GetIT, students will attend virtual digital skills boot camps where they will learn about the different stages of developing software, including how to identify a target audience for their application, problem solving, brainstorming and research techniques, prototyping, and test and development.

Students will spend time learning about Amazon’s working backwards approach to innovation and get guidance from female leaders at AWS – AWS GetIT ambassadors and volunteers – who will host and mentor students during boot camps, and provide support, feedback and guidance on developing their application ideas in a fun and collaborative environment.

The program also introduces students to the variety of roles available in technology to give them a sense of the different types of career paths open to them, to help them imagine what working in tech might be like, and to help them learn about the positive impact that women are having in the industry.

As an Ireland-based AWS GetIT ambassador, Niamh Finnegan, Operations Manager, AWS Premium Support, said: “In my own career, I was always competitive with myself to be the best that I could be. But when starting out and building my skills, it was a challenge to understand where my strengths could be best utilized.”

“AWS introduced me to a role that I didn’t even know existed,” she adds. “That ignited my passion for technology and made me proud to be an engineer. Now I’m committed to working with schools and young girls to show how varied and cool technology careers can be.”

AWS will shortlist 10 teams to present to an expert panel of judges, who will select a winning team and present them with their prize – the opportunity to work directly with AWS teams for a day, to workshop how they would bring their app idea to life.

Commenting on the launch, Mike Beary, AWS Ireland Country Manager, said: “To support Ireland’s digital transformation journey we need to encourage more students to study technology at school. The aim of AWS GetIT is to introduce young people to technology, especially girls, to help them learn new skills, and to make them aware of the huge array of career opportunities available in the industry today. The initiative demonstrates that you don’t need to be deeply technical to have a successful career in tech.”

Designed with award-winning organisations
AWS GetIT has been developed in collaboration with Future Foundations, an award-winning youth training organisation which designs pioneering training programmes and experiences for young people, teachers and adults.

Jonathan Harper, CEO of Future Foundations, said: “We are proud to support the launch of AWS GetIT in Ireland. We have seen amazing results in the UK, with over 100 schools taking part over the last three years. We are looking forward to working in partnership with schools and AWS, to inspire the next generation of students in Ireland to explore the power of technology and solve real world issues in their school or local communities.”

Watch this space to find out the winners in spring 2021!

For more information about the programme, visit AWS GetIT.