Richard Regan

What is Google Cloud’s Project Katalyst Programme?

Earlier this year Google Cloud announced the initial UK pilot of its new Cloud Training Programme, which has been designed to help increase the pool of available skilled talent in the market and prepare participants for their first role working with Google Cloud Partners. We caught up with Richard Regan, Head of Partner Engineering, UK and Ireland, Google Cloud for a deeper dive into the new cloud training programme and its key highlight.

Can you tell us more about Google Cloud’s Project Katalyst Training Programme and what this involves?
Project Katalyst is a new cloud training programme. It has been specifically designed for underrepresented and underprivileged individuals who are looking to gain skills in Google Cloud’s technology and the workplace in general. With the initial pilot taking place in London this summer, our aim is to inclusively increase the pool of available skilled talent in the market and prepare participants for their first role working with Google Cloud Partners. The Katalyst programme has provided Google Cloud with a fantastic opportunity to enable life-changing careers, support individuals who are eager to learn and provide an enjoyable experience working with us.

To launch the programme quickly and on a large scale, we worked with our partner Generation UK – a charity that prepares and supports people into careers. Together, over the last few months, we’ve developed a Google Cloud curriculum specifically tailored for preparing individuals to start their first role with our Partners. Generation UK has developed a robust recruitment process to ensure individuals with the right motivation and potential are selected to participate. Generation UK’s drive and experience in this sector has been critical to ensuring we’ve taken the right steps to prepare, place and support people into careers that in other ways would have been accessible.

The Katalyst programme is a 12 week long initiative which will consist of developing both professional employment and soft skills, alongside more technical cloud skills. During the course, participants will complete a Google Cloud Digital Leader certification, which provides individuals with the foundational knowledge of cloud technology and data. This training will also allow participants to work towards achieving the Associate Cloud Engineer certification within the first six months of joining a Google Cloud Partner. This certification will provide individuals with the fundamental skills of deploying, monitoring and maintaining projects.

What are the key benefits of the Katalyst programme?
Firstly, there are no educational entry requirements to qualify for the Katalyst programme. We want to provide underrepresented individuals, who perhaps have not had the opportunity to go to university and have a passion for technology, to build a successful career with Google Cloud.

Secondly, the initiative will be aimed at individual groups, representing a balance of genders, ethnic minority communities, and young people, who are furthest away from the labour market through no fault of their own. It’s also targeted at those with mental or physical challenges who’ve not had an opportunity to develop their skills.

In terms of the unique benefits of the certificates, the Cloud Digital Leader certification is a practical certificate that will enable individuals to understand the full capabilities of how Google Cloud’s core products and services can support and benefit enterprises to achieve their goals. Participants will also be able to demonstrate their knowledge of cloud computing basics, in areas such as digital transformation, data, infrastructure and application modernisation, and security and operations.

The Associate Cloud Engineer certification is a hands-on accreditation that empowers participants who have completed this training to accelerate our customer’s business transformation. Once participants are awarded with the Associate Cloud Engineers certification, they will be able to deploy applications, monitor operations, and manage enterprise solutions. Further to this, individuals will learn how to perform common platform-based tasks such as setting up a cloud solution environment, learning how to plan and configure a cloud solution, establishing a successful operation of a cloud solution, and more.

What job opportunities can participants apply for after the Katalyst programme?
On completing the programme, there is a list of Google Cloud Partners who have job opportunities available that they are looking to fill with participants from this course. In fact, this course was initially requested by our partners and has been developed with their feedback and input, so they are committed to offering life-changing career opportunities and support for those entering their first role at Google Cloud.

To date, we have had demand from approximately 17 Google Cloud partners operating in the UK and Ireland, including Accenture, Deloitte and PA Consulting.

What challenges is Google Cloud and the Katalyst programme attempting to solve?
Whilst hosting a forum last year with Chief Technology Officers from our Google Cloud Partner Network there was one topic on everyone’s mind: the lack of UK talent in the market. It was apparent that all leaders in the room were struggling to hire, train and retain top cloud talent, so I went away with this feedback to think about how we could best solve this challenge and grow the pool of skilled talent.

This industry-wide issue wasn’t a surprise. According to Gartner, throughout 2022 insufficient cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service skills will delay half of enterprise IT organisations’ migration to the cloud by two years or more. Some may see this as a significant challenge. However, I was motivated to help solve this skills gap. Especially as during my day-to-day role, I lead a team of engineers in the UK and Ireland, who work with our partners’ technical teams to enable and support them in delivering Google Cloud technologies to our customers.

The main challenge we’re attempting to solve is to inclusively increase the pool of available cloud-skilled individuals who work with Google Cloud. The Katalyst programme will also help address the challenges for UK talent that have previously faced barriers to employment.

Through the Katalyst programme we are aiming to deliver life-changing opportunities to individuals who have previously faced barriers to employment and who are motivated to launch a career in tech. We’re mostly targeting unemployed people, focusing on 50% female, 80% ethnic minority, 30% long term unemployed and young people aged 18-29, though not exclusively.

We are also hoping to provide Google Cloud partners/employers with a reliable source of diverse and highly-motivated, entry-level talent equipped with the specific skills, mindsets and behaviours needed to thrive from day one – which was previously not an option before this programme.

The project aims to prepare participants through a pragmatic and targeted curriculum for job roles such as Cloud Platform Engineers with a focus on Google Cloud, expanding to other domains including Google Data Engineer.

One of our key aims is to ensure the programme is self-sustaining with no additional funding required once the UK pilot is in full operation and running externally. We’re also aiming for a rapid scale-out so that thousands of participants globally each year can benefit from the programme.

What are the future plans for the Katalyst programme?
Our future goal is to provide people not only based in the UK but also worldwide with an accessible platform and opportunity to work with Google Cloud and build successful and happy careers within the cloud sector. And the Katalyst Programme is one of the ways to achieve that change.

We’re already in discussions to broaden the availability of the Katalyst programme across the UK, with the aim of setting up pilots in EMEA and globally by 2023. The general availability of the programme will be decided by the success of the pilot project in London. This will be determined if over 80% of participants complete the course and secure job roles with our partners. This is the real motivator for me and I hope to be able to share some of the many stories of the individuals who benefit from this programme, motivating many others, over the coming months and years.

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