network, IT, Telecoms...
I’m Alan Derry, managing director at Technical Resources, and in this blog I’ll examine why the burgeoning data centre sector offers a range of career opportunities that might not seem immediately apparent.
Why are Data Centre Jobs in Such High Demand?
I recently took part in a Question Time panel discussion in Inside_Networks, where my fellow contributors and I were asked to assess the seriousness of the data centre job skills shortage and what should be done to address it. The responses provide valuable food for thought and, specifically, the need to attract high calibre people into the sector.
The fact that there is a skills shortage at all will come as a surprise to many, especially since the UK now has the largest data centre market in Europe. Its contribution to the overall economy is not to be sniffed at either, with Digital Realty predicting that by 2025 UK based data centres will be responsible for the storing of data worth over $135bn annually.
Furthermore, techUK has suggested that data centres underpin the digital economy, improving productivity and generating employment across multiple business centres. When it actually comes to designing, constructing, specifying, operating and maintaining these facilities, the range of skills, knowledge and expertise required is incredibly wide. As a result, more people are needed to carry out this type of work – from cabling installers and technicians, through to energy efficiency, management and auditing professionals.
What is the Reason for Struggling to Find Good Data Centre Candidates?
So, why is there a skills shortage at all? As the data centre sector sits at the crossroads of real estate, construction, electrical engineering and IT, recruiting people can be difficult at times, as it requires an individual to have a vast knowledge of a very niche area. It’s also one with little or no dedicated education source to train up new candidates. As a result, many of the key roles have a limited resource pool to select from.
In terms of attracting new blood, it doesn’t help that many outside of the sector have never heard of job opportunities in data centres or, if they have, don't fully understand their relevance to modern life. Young people are seemingly reliant on their smartphones, yet ask most of them what allows them to stream content and use social media and chances are you’ll be met with a blank stare. Just as problematic is the lack of diversity, with the data centre sector having what Mike Hook of LMG accurately describes as an ‘aging male, pale and stale demographic’.
The Inside_Networks discussion had some recurring themes such as the importance of graduate recruitment and attractive career paths that can compete with other industries. Another, perhaps more fundamental, was the need for all elements of the data centre sector to collaborate to promote the opportunities on offer and grab the attention of those who currently work in other industries.
I completely concur with these suggestions: the time has come for actions rather than just words. If we are to develop the skills the data centre sector will need in the future. At Technical Resources, we want to play our part by recruiting not just within this growing sector, but to find candidates with the right skills and experience that can be applied successfully in a new career in data centre work.
Click here to read the Inside_Networks Question Time feature.