The fully-funded education program introduced the young students to Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) areas such as cloud computing, with the goal of helping them to gain digital skills, challenge gender stereotypes within the tech industry, and encourage them to consider a career in technology.
The program also introduces students to the variety of both technical and non-technical roles available in the industry 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.
“Through the AWS GetIT program, our students will be enriched in both knowledge and skills about the power of the cloud and its role in innovation,” said Cassandra Foo, Head of Centre for Social Innovation, Cedar Girls’ Secondary School. "I am confident these skills will pave the way for them to impact the community that they serve, and spur them to pursue careers that contribute to our Smart Nation Initiative.”
STEM skills are particularly important for girls. According to research published by the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), just 58% of women who graduate with STEM degrees or diplomas go on to have related careers. In comparison, 70% of men who hold such qualifications are in related fields of work. The report underlines the importance of early intervention before girls make career decisions, and highlights the significance of mentors and role models who help girls connect STEM to real life issues.
Skills in areas such as cloud computing are in high demand, and will increase in the coming years. According to an AWS-commissioned study by AlphaBeta, titled ‘’Unlocking APAC’s Digital Potential: Changing Digital Skill Needs and Policy Approaches," Singapore will need 1.2 million additional digital workers by 2025 – a 55% increase from today’s levels. This includes digital workers who will need to upskill, students who will enter the workforce by 2025, and currently unemployed or out-of-workforce individuals who need to learn basic digital skills to access job opportunities. By encouraging young girls to consider a career in technology, we can help grow a more diverse pipeline of talent to close this gap.
“The aim of AWS GetIT is to help young girls learn new skills, and to make them aware of the huge array of career opportunities available in the technology industry today,” said Sandra Teh, AWS GetIT Ambassador. “By making digital skills accessible to youths across Singapore who may not otherwise have the opportunity, AWS GetIT will provide a strong foundation from which students can learn and grow. We want students to learn more about technology as a possible career option for a range of skillsets. I explored both the Arts and Sciences in school, and AWS introduced me to a role that allows me to use my diverse background in an unexpected way.”
“The aim of AWS GetIT is to help young girls learn new skills, and to make them aware of the huge array of career opportunities available in the technology industry today.”
Building skills for the future
To adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, the Singapore pilot will take place in two phases. During the first virtual session, the AWS GetIT Ambassadors shared inspiring stories about women in tech, an overview of cloud computing, discussions on inclusion and diversity before sharing details of the second phase of the program.
If the COVID-19 guidelines allow, the second phase of the program, in-person bootcamps, will take place by March 2022. During these bootcamps, students will be presented with challenge packs to create creative solutions using technology to address real world problems in their community or school.
The program prepares women leaders within AWS and other Amazon organization act as AWS GetIT Ambassadors. Ambassadors are responsible for advocating, managing and driving the program as role models both within AWS and in schools. The AWS GetIT Ambassadors will mentor students during bootcamps, and provide support, feedback and guidance on developing their application ideas in a fun and collaborative environment. There will also be a strong emphasis on soft skills like listening to societal needs, creativity and communication.
Making an impact
The students from Cedar Girls’ Secondary School were engaged throughout the session and for some, the experience changed their mindset about technology.
“It was a very interesting program. Usually I wouldn’t be open to tech, as I’m more inclined to humanities, but this program caused me to consider a job in tech or even with AWS. I hope to learn more about what I can do with my strengths in this industry in the future,” said secondary three student, Grace.
For other students, the session inspired them to stay open-minded to different career paths. According to Natasha, another secondary three student, “One thing I learned was to be more flexible and open regarding my future career. I really enjoyed the personal anecdotes which, which were very reassuring, and added to the appeal of entering the tech industry!”
The program’s Singapore pilot was organized in conjunction with Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) “Girls in Tech” week AWS GetIT follows the SG Women in Tech (SGiT) Corporate Pledge that Amazon took together with some 50 other companies to create a conducive environment to attract, retain and develop more women in tech.
AWS GetIT was first launched in the United Kingdom in 2018, and has since reached youths from the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany, inspiring and engaging with over 23,000 students from 136 schools. The incredible diversity of the competition submissions reflects the varied issues and pressures facing young people today and their priorities: app concepts range from managing stress and mental health, to encouraging consumption of recyclable products and planning ahead to complete schoolwork.