The knowledge gap: is upskilling the answer? The data centre sector is facing a crisis around skills shortages. Andrew Stevens, CEO and president at CNet Training, looks at the key issues and potential strategies for addressing the problem. He warns there is no quick fix
t is no secret that the skills shortage is one of the greatest challenges facing the data centre industry. Relatively few young people are choosing to pursue a career in data centres, while a recent mid-point survey from Vertiv, Closer to the Edge, showed that 16% of employees who currently work globally in data centre roles plan to be retired by 2025. For employees from the US and Canada, this number jumps to an eyewatering 33%. The existing skills shortage is going to intensify at an everincreasing rate unless new talent can be encouraged to enter the industry and existing team members upskilled to progress through the ranks in the next few years. Ongoing struggle Companies are continuously struggling to recruit and retain qualified workers. The growth of the industry is creating new positions but a large percentage still remain unfilled as there are not enough skilled people to fill the roles needed. Outages also remain a serious problem: the 2019 Uptime Institute Data Centre Survey reported that just over a third (34%) of all respondents to the survey had an outage or severe IT service degradation in the past year, while half (50%) had an outage or severe MCP October 2019
IT service degradation in the past three years. This signifies to me the importance of having the correct team for the job. Mistakes are extremely costly to businesses. Unfortunately a lack of competent and well-trained/ educated and knowledgeable staff is only going to increase the number of mistakes and outages and, in turn, cost those businesses greatly.
of employees who currently work globally in data centre roles plan to be retired by 2025 Businesses need to start reacting now – the industry has been talking about this situation for the past 10 years but unfortunately not a lot has changed. We need to learn from other industries that have been through similar skills shortages. The main issue we face is the lack of collaborative working: a lot of companies have gone off on their own, creating individual initiatives, but while everyone is working on their individual projects, the fundamental issue of the skills
shortage still remains, and nothing currently seems to be having a real impact. The industry needs to start working much closer together to create an industry initiative and united message that everyone is working towards. In marketing, the more consistent and the more visible the message is across all marketing channels, the more likely the campaign is to succeed. Instead of working on smaller, company-level projects, we need to be putting on a united front to help raise awareness of the industry. Businesses should be looking at a variety of different methods to help improve the situation. Upskilling existing team members is one possible way – looking at who they currently employ and what simple steps can be taken to increase team members’
knowledge, for example, internal mentoring, shadowing senior team members and working alongside specialist external education providers. We often see a lot of job adverts that require a minimum of two years’ prior experience. How can we bring in new talent to the industry if everyone needs a specific amount of experience and if other transferable skills or experience are not taken into consideration? However, there are still issues with seeing upskilling staff as the total resolution. It is likely to still cause a gap and other issues within the team. If there are no new recruits, then the work is still split between the same number of people who can only do so much. With increasing demand and added responsibility, there are bound to be some tasks that fall by missioncriticalpower.uk