Tom Roberts is President of AFCOM, the leading association supporting the educational and professional development needs of data center professionals around the globe.
There’s good news on the horizon for IT professionals: Corporate IT spending is expected to take off from 2014 to 2016, as companies adopt new technologies, according to research firm IDC.
In order to have these new tools implemented in data centers, analysts say the U.S. IT technical workforce of 3.9 million or so needs to increase by almost 50 percent within the next two years. North America is not alone; for the final quarter of 2013, there was shortage of 4,600 IT professionals across Australia.
The lack of workers doesn’t refer to actual bodies, but people with the skills needed in today’s world. For example, professionals with knowledge of data warehousing, business intelligence and SAP are sorely needed "Down Under." In the U.S. and Canada, cloud computing is going to require 2.7 million specialists by 2015.
IDC also reports that the U.S. government’s $30 billion electronic health records (EHR) initiative has created an even greater shortage of health information technology workers over the next few years, above the 50,000 the U.S. government previously estimated.
Big Data, considered the next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity, requires people with deep analytical skills as well as analysts who know who to use the data. There’s a shortage in this arena as well. Data center managers who have been in the profession for many years may not think they need to become experts about the above technologies, but their CEOs probably do.
They basically only have a few options: Ignore the new technologies going on around them and be replaced with a newcomer or revamped veteran; go back to school; or attend as many educational conferences as they can to become accredited in some of the topics just mentioned.
Human Impacts of New Technologies
According to the Cisco Global Cloud Index Study, “The growth of data and these new technologies affect not only IT systems and infrastructures, but also the practitioners that design, install, operate and manage them. New job roles are emerging that require next-generation skill sets.”
The study goes on to say that 60 percent of data center operations cite lack of suitably qualified staff as one of the major issues they will face in the coming years.
In AFCOM’s most recent State of the Industry survey, a few critical trends emerged involving the need for ongoing skill development for data center professionals specifically:
- According to the AFCOM Survey, when respondents were asked why their budget was increasing, the top 30 percent answered “increased training and certifications.”
- 56 percent indicated the need for more training in facilities management, 43 percent in operations and process management, and 39 percent pointed to network training.
- When asked which skills required certification, 40 percent responded networking, 36percent facilities management, and 35 percent systems design and analysis.
The McKinsey Global Institute is predicting the possibility of a shortage of 1.5 million skilled and qualified data center managers by 2015.
That shortage could be met through conferences like Data Center World - Global (which convenes next week), tapping into an industry association like AFCOM to help advance your data center profession, or seeking certification from one of many reputable education providers.
Either way, the clear fact exists: The data center industry demands more skilled workers. Opportunity or threat, the future is wide open for those who seek knowledge.
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