Amazon has partnered with LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), the City University of New York (CUNY) and the State University of New York (SUNY) to launch an initiative that aims to equip students with cloud computing skills and help them get jobs in the tech industry.

The program is part of Amazon's effort to provide workforce development and training opportunities for local residents across New York, as the company begins hiring for its upcoming Long Island City headquarters.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO – Jeff Bezos

Cloud classes and tax breaks

Students at participating colleges will be able to access new training courses by Fall 2019, plus every student who graduates from the program will receive membership in the AWS Educate program, which provides opportunities for hands-on experience with cloud technologies and tools from AWS, at no cost to the student.

“There is such rich talent in New York, and we want to ensure we’re reaching New Yorkers from diverse backgrounds, as we hire for 25,000 jobs across the region.

"We see this collaboration with LAGCC, CUNY, and SUNY as ensuring that more students have the opportunity to join companies like Amazon as we seek out more tech talent,” said Ardine Williams, VP of workforce development at Amazon.

But the move could be seen as a way to curry favor with NYC locals, amid outrage over Amazon receiving roughly $3 billion in grants and tax breaks from the state of New York.

In exchange for these incentives, Amazon promised to invest $2.5 billion in the city, and create 25,000 high-paying jobs over the next decade.

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson recently asked: “Why does a mega-corporation worth almost a trillion dollars, led by the richest man in the world, need our $3 billion in subsidies?”

It should be noted that Amazon is not taking all the possible tax breaks coming its way. Last week, the company stated that it did not intend to take advantage of the fact that new North American headquarters will be situated within a designated 'opportunity zone.'

Opportunity zones allow people to invest in "distressed" areas and defer the taxes on those investments until 2026. The area in which Amazon will have its new headquarters is classified as a distressed zone, despite the median income for the area being $138,000.