Amazon’s HQ announcement signals new education opportunities for Queens

LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Jim Henderson)


Amazon’s presence in Queens will give the “tens of thousands of New Yorkers who go to our public schools and colleges opportunities at Amazon,” according to Mayor Bill de Blasio in a press conference on Nov. 13.

Local tech education programs are looking to partner with Amazon to bring students and residents jobs and internships with the corporate giant.

“We’re going to use this opportunity to open up good careers in tech to thousands of people looking for their foothold in the new economy,” said de Blasio, “including those in city colleges and public housing.”

LaGuardia Community College expects to benefit greatly by Amazon’s move. LGACC President Gail Mellow has been outspoken about changing views on community college education and recognizes Amazon’s move to Queens as a golden opportunity for her students.

LGA serves 50,000 students. They’re an extremely diverse group, mainly people of color, and they come from a lot of low-income houses. They just need the opportunity to get a great job and a great job track,” Mellow said. “It’s a really wonderful opportunity.”

Mellow sees opportunities for employment, internships and even partnerships in developing curriculum in LGACC’s future with Amazon. LGACC has a growing tech program and recently introduced courses in cyber security, and Amazon’s help could make those programs even better.

“With [Amazon’s partnerships], we can improve our curriculum to serve not just Amazon but the New York tech industry as a whole,” Mellow said.

Mellow believes Amazon’s move helps LGACC, but it gives Amazon a great opportunity too.

“The tech industry talks about needing more diversity and women, and [coming to] LIC gives them the opportunity to make good on that,” Mellow said.

Amazon’s new headquarters also benefit tech education groups and vocation schools.

Jukay Hsu, founder and CEO of Pursuit, a nonprofit that teaches coding, tech training and career development to mainly underserved and low income communities, said he’s “optimistic about spreading our existing programs to our partnership with Amazon.”

“Amazon is coming to Queens, and we are bringing Queens to Amazon,” said Hsu. “It is an exciting opportunity, but we want to make sure the local community has access to these jobs and we will work to make that happen.”

Hsu said Pursuit will create a job center at Amazon H2Q which will serve local residents. H2Q is expected to produce more than 25,000 jobs, and Hsu is adamant about keeping many of those jobs in Queens.

“We are an inclusive tech community in Queens,” he said. “The core of our mission is to understand the needs of our community and understand the barriers people face when it comes to getting tech jobs. We are making sure [Amazon] delivers meaningful job opportunities for local residents.”

Mickey Slevin, senior regional director of vocation school General Assembly, sees Amazon’s move to Long Island City as “a recognition of the deep talent pool in and around LIC.”

Slevin expects a number of General Assembly graduates to be hired by Amazon, and expects the tech job market to get more competitive while it grows in New York.

With Google and Amazon both building headquarters in New York, a massive wave of tech jobs is approaching from two of the largest, most successful tech companies in the world. Tech workers in New York will have a shot at numerous employment opportunities, but General Assembly also stands to gain from workers keeping their skills up to date through their programs.

General Assembly already has partnerships with Fortune 500 companies and large tech companies, but a partnership with Amazon isn’t necessarily a breaking point for the school. Amazon’s arrival in general should bring an increased interest in technology education, Slevin said.

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