How are data centres combatting skill shortages?
Explosive demand for data is driving the expansion, and technological advancement, of data centres. By 2026, the global market is set to double, reaching $105.6 billion, but there is some scepticism as to whether this can be achieved with the volume of data centre jobs needing to be filled.
The skills shortage in the industry has long been hailed as its most prevailing and significant challenge. By 2025, the staff requirements in data centres across the world are forecasted to reach 2.3 million. By this time, half of the world’s engineering staff are expected to retire - meaning there is a huge void of talent to fill.
So, what is the industry doing to attract, retain and grow their talent? Here, we take a look at how data centres are combatting their growing skills shortages.
Integrating with education
The education path leading to a data centre job isn’t linear. The industry employs a wide spectrum of skillsets and specialities, and data centre careers are rarely forged purposefully.
What is clear is that STEM education is synonymous with the industry. The UK has recognised this in their latest Digital Strategy, emphasising early STEM teaching as a way to inspire the next generation and secure the country’s future as a global tech superpower.
But without a clear route from education to a data centre job, the industry is failing to attract talent early. Several institutions have caught onto this fact and are intervening with educational programmes to establish a career in data centres.
Specialist data centre developer and operator Kao Data established an industry first STEM resource to engage primary and secondary school children in the data centre industry. Delivered through an interactive website and educational videos, Kao Academy is set to broaden the students mind to the possibilities of working in digital infrastructure.
Other institutions getting involved in early intervention include UTC Heathrow. Students from 14 are being offered their ‘Digital Futures’ programme that starts building the technical skills and knowledge required in a Data Centre job. And finally, in 2021, the UK’s first data centre focussed bachelor’s degree was introduced in Sligo by LotusWorks.
Whilst operating extremely hard behind the scenes of the digital world, the vast majority of the population are unaware of what it takes to build and operate a data centre and how critical the industry is.
To change this, ‘International Data Centre Day’ was launched in 2019 to address the lack of qualified and diverse candidates in the field. Data centre organisations and professionals use the day to share resources, host events and promote the limitless data centre career opportunities.
Uptime Institute has also launched a digital ‘Data Centre Career Pathfinder’ platform. This free online tool lists hundreds of structured career possibilities available to a range of professional backgrounds. The roles listed in the site span design, build and operation areas, focusing on sustainability and construction.
Utilising available talent
Upskilling is currently a huge priority for data centres. To keep up with the industry’s rapid evolution and combat the waves of retirement, data centre operators are utilising and progressing the workforce they have, to fill their growing skills gaps.
The ‘Grow Our Own Talent’ programme implemented by Amazon Web Services is an initiative that sees employees with non-traditional experience gain ‘on the job’ technical training. Employees are hired into Data Centre Engineer and Data Centre Technician jobs and provided with six months of rigorous training to get them up to industry standard.
The expertise in logistics, procurement and systems required in a data centre job also happen to match the profile of an alternative industry: the military. In America, an increasing number of veterans leaving the force are being employed by data centres. In fact, CoreSite – a U.S data centre solutions provider – has a mission critical workforce made up of nearly 50% military personnel.
It is their unique combination of pragmatism, ability to follow protocol and adaptability that make them highly prized in the data centre world.
Mechanical Engineers, Electrical Engineers and Design Engineers are some transferable positions that are highly sought by data centres. In fact, data centre recruitment often target candidates with backgrounds in life sciences, manufacturing and construction to build their workforce with the technical skills that come
Have you got the skills needed for a Data Centre job?
If you have the skills required, or a genuine interest in a fulfilling data centre career, reach out to Quanta. We specialise in placing candidates in their dream data centre jobs across the world. Contact our dedicated data centre recruitment team or check out our latest data centre jobs. Also, check out our article on how to become a data centre project manager and how to become a data centre design manager.