Good news: Computer science graduates will be ready for the cloud

More and more colleges and universities are preparing students for a world beyond on-premises IT systems

DePaul University is providing a cloud computing technologies program in its School of Computing and Digital Media. DePaul is not alone.

Most major universities provide some cloud computing-related courses, and students may even find that they do more work on the cloud than in traditional college computing labs.

Universities are taking two paths in adopting cloud computing in their curricula:

  • The first path lets professors integrate cloud-based technologies into traditional MIS and computer science programs, though not explicitly about the cloud.
  • The second path provides courses and even entire programs that focus on cloud computing -- and nothing but the cloud, such as the program at DePaul.

I see a day when we’ll have hundreds of thousands of people in the IT workforce that have never done anything outside the cloud. That’s an exciting future.

Although the thought of never having to deal with an aging on-premises system at a college or university is scary to a traditional IT staffer, the ability to prepare students for life outside of college is the core mission of higher education.

Guess what? That future is the cloud.

Core cloud skills will mean big starting salaries for students who graduate college this spring. Those with Amazon Web Services, Google, or Microsoft cloud talent will command 20 to 30 percent higher salaries than those with more traditional skills.

That pay gap should only improve over the next several years. Indeed, the cloud skills shortage will be such a problem that I foresee cloud providers, consulting firms, and even traditional enterprises investing in colleges and universities to up their cloud teaching capabilities.

At the same time, students will look for universities that can give them the knowledge and skills they need to drive a career into a world where cloud computing is a larger part of the technology stack. Colleges and universities will adjust accordingly, perhaps more than they have around any other technology trend. DePaul is only one of the first to do so.

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