Data Centre Dynamics talks with Andy Davis

As we all may know  by now, Andy Davis – Director of DataX Connect – has created a successful weekly podcast to showcase the data centre industry and what it’s like to work inside it. From time to time though, he can be seen (or heard) on other people’s podcasts and chats, sharing his knowledge and understanding of this growing industry. Data Centre Dynamics sat down with Andy to talk recruitment, in an engaging 20 minute video that can be watched here.

Maybe you are curious about the skills shortage, what the industry is looking for, and how to improve diversity and awareness. Or do you want to know what skills are easily transferrable, or if you’re already in the industry, hear what Andy wants the industry to be aware of. This is well worth a listen to in order to gain insight into data centres as Vlad and Andy discuss how he got into data centres and how others can do the same. There are a lot of opportunities available but making people aware of these is one of the major challenges being faced at the moment, with a new push towards making sure more people know just what is out there.

Following the talk, DCPro created a blog to highlight the skills shortage, using Andy’s insider knowledge to see its effects on the Data Centre Industry. An interesting read that can be found here, giving you a more in depth viewpoint of the jobs, skills, and expectations of businesses. Knowing how the sector is run and what companies are doing to grow and retain a vital workforce shows the flourishing opportunities that are being provided; helping you to visualise a rewarding career.

There are a lot of job roles available and looking to hire the right candidates, and our wonderful DataX team can connect you with the right employer and the chance to start on a successful career path. With international connections and clients searching for their ideal fit, it could be you working in a constantly expanding industry which we rely on more and more.

Our trusted recruitment agency is filled with a very experienced and friendly team that are ready to start you on your journey. Learn more about data centres or expand your current experience with our range of positions that want filling. Call the team on 01489888499 (UK) or visit the website to find more ways of contacting us!

When the best time to look for a new opportunity is – December vs January

Tomorrow marks the 1st of December which means we’re officially coming towards the end of another weird and wonderful 12 months, as 2021 rather hastily draws to a close.

I’ve always thought of this time of year to be one of the best times to look at the options for a new position – in terms of the market, personal reflection, and planning for the next 12 months ahead (and beyond) – and whilst some will be thinking about whether to bite the bullet & do something about it now, others will prefer to wait until January.

If moving jobs is something you’re considering exploring in the near future but don’t know when to put the wheels in motion, I’ve put together some thoughts on the different reasons for looking at the end of this year vs the start of next…

PROS & CONS OF LOOKING NOW

✔ It’s a candidate market – people are getting multiple interviews and gaining multiple offers

Having CHOICE and being able to look into the detail of what the company offers, what your role will entail, the opportunities for you to progress, how the package stacks up and what the environment you’ll be working in will be like, allows you to consider various options and pick the one you think is best for you.

 ✔ Remuneration & packages are at an all-time high

Engineers in Building Services Design / Data Centres are increasing their basic salary by an average of 15-30% by moving jobs at the moment.

 Not only that, what companies are offering as total compensation is improving, how much ‘richer’ could you be with added benefits of a bonus scheme, car allowance, better pension contributions, private healthcare, tailored working from home options – be it fully remote, 1 day in 4 days WFH, 5 days in the office, an even split – whatever suits you can likely be accommodated somewhere.

  ✔ Good companies are putting together their plans for the New Year, now.

You stay ahead of the game, or you fall behind it. Well run companies are strategic and their recruitment plans are around growth, rather than back-filling a vacancy after someone has handed their notice in in January. Do you want to be joining the ambitious company who have identified a need for you, and will have a plan for how you will develop with them, or do you want to be lured into one that has just had an unexpected tender win that they suddenly don’t have enough resource for, so are looking for a ‘doer’ to fill a gap. 

✖ Too many plates to spin right now

I’ll be honest, as much as I love December, it’s a bloody stressful time of year.

I’m currently trying to find a fancy-dress outfit, a work Christmas party outfit, another outfit for a Christmas ball, I’ve been trying to buy everyone’s Christmas presents whilst they’re still in the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales AND it’s still one of the busiest periods of the year for recruitment.

I don’t blame you if you’re struggling to find time to juggle updating your CV alongside your end of year workload, present buying, present wrapping, nights out, catching up with friends, Winter Wonderland, and drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate and/or mulled wine every weekend…

I feel ya.

✖ Don’t know where to start

It’s daunting. Especially on top of all of the above.

Looking for a new job, particularly if it’s something you’ve either never done or not done for a while, can be scary. You don’t know who to speak to, what to expect, who to trust or whether you will be able to find something that ticks the right boxes.

As recruiters, we should be able to give you some good insight into the market, so hopefully this isn’t something you should really have to worry about. You just need to have that initial conversation to open things up.

✖ Things might get better where I am after my EOY review

If they’re any good, your current employer will be making/have made plans for 2022. Maybe your role will change, you’ll get that promotion you’ve been waiting for, you’ll get the pay-rise, or at least you’ll have the chance to speak up about what’s concerning you…

PROS & CONS OF LOOKING IN JANUARY

 ✔ New year, new me

 ✔ ‘More’ companies will be hiring (really?!)

 ✔ Take a step back, away from the pressures of your every day and reflect on what you really want to achieve from moving companies

 ✔ Take your time updating your CV over the Christmas break

 ✔ Hiring Managers are back from annual leave

 ✔ Still get your December bonus*

 *if you don’t have to pay it back if you leave within x amount of months

 ✖ Increased candidate competition – more people will use January to look for a new role if it’s something they’re thinking of

 ✖ You’re more likely to sit and ‘wait it out’ where you are currently despite not being happy

 ✖ Time waits for no man/woman – that company that would be PERFECT for you might be hiring now. If you don’t know about it or explore it now, the opportunity may not be around in January

So December vs January job hunting…

The result?

There’s no one size fits all and it will depend on you and your own personal situation.

But whichever you think is best and whenever you feel is right for you, let’s start speaking so you know what your options are and can feel confident and prepared in how to approach your search when the time comes.

Drop me a message, email your CV to [email protected] or give me a call on 01489888499.

Addressing the Data Centre talent shortage. Are we doing enough?

By far and away the question I get asked the most by our customers (client and candidate) is “How’s the market looking for engineers?”. Sounds like an innocuous question, right? This is what I usually thought too. But after being asked this question and then having the same conversation with a dozen hiring managers just this week so far it made me stop and actually think about it.

The facts are pretty clear. The market is busier than it ever has been before. I could name you 10+ companies that are looking for engineers right now. I could also name you several projects where new sites are under construction and talent attraction plans are being built out. But one thing that is becoming more and more apparent is the pool of good quality engineers is getting smaller and of that pool less and less are wanting to move.

Don’t just take my word for it. The Uptime Institute released their first global staffing report earlier this year: ‘The people challenge: Global data center staffing forecast 2021-2025’. The report highlighted the challenges we face over the next five years (link at the end of the article) and came to the same conclusion that growth will reach all-time highs and that the current pool of engineers is nowhere near enough to accommodate.

In another article from DCD’s Graeme Burton (link at the end of the article), he summed up nicely our current state with the “Age-Old problem” within the industry where “veterans are retiring but who is going to replace them?”.

The more important question for me and the people I speak to is, “Are we, as an industry, doing enough to solve this problem?” 

In my experience so far, the industry is massively disjointed in its approach. Some companies are trying some good initiatives but I’m a firm believer that we could be doing so much more.

Related industries

We have seen with the recent pandemic a real change in the visibility of Data Centres. All of a sudden, these secret hidden-away buildings have become big news and as more and more people hear of the industry, we have a great opportunity to bring high quality engineers over from other related industries such as, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, production, aviation & ex-forces engineers all have heavily transferrable skills. We are beginning to see more of these engineers take up roles within the DC market but there is still a block with a number of companies who struggle to come to terms with the idea they made need to hire someone without direct Data Centre experience. We need to open up our thinking and work on way to attract and then retain these engineers. They will be the ones who can most quickly replace the current crop of experienced and nearing retirement engineers.

Attracting the next generation

This is an area that up until recently was practically impossible to do when the market was so secretive and so hidden. We are seeing some of the particularly large companies offering courses or qualifications for younger people or apprenticeship and graduate programmes being rolled out. But it is so sporadic across the industry. We have a real opportunity now to grasp the attention of the younger generation. Data Centres are more prominent in young people’s lives with the explosion of social media, popularity of green initiatives (such as electric cars) and even online gaming all fully dependant on Data Centres to store their Data. Now is the time to educate and open the industry up to the next generation. Every single company should already be thinking about and implementing strategies in this area so we can ensure that longer term things will be secure.

Diversity & inclusion

There is very much still that macho construction feel about the Data Centre sector. The industry is historically heavily dominated by white males (like me!) and more has to be done to change that perception and attract people of all genders and backgrounds. This is not something that can be fixed quickly, perceptions take time to change but companies must act now to ensure that their culture is an appropriately open one. Longer term the focus has to be on educating our youngsters on the industry and demonstrating that all are welcome and will have the same opportunities regardless of sex, ethnicity or background. There are some companies leading the way here but again more can still be done to diversify our workforce and open it up to as many people as possible, while importantly not excluding and discriminating against those already within it. 

We can do more…

I am firmly of the belief that more can be done to help. In the short term with clients thinking more outside of the box and being more flexible with their requirements. In the medium term with an adjusting of company culture to feel more welcoming and inclusive. And finally in the long term with education and outreach programmes to attract the engineers of tomorrow. 

It’s possible but only if we all pull together. In the words of my colleague, Sam Denham (stolen from Nigel Adkins, ex-Southampton FC manager), “Together as One”.

You can download the Uptime Institute report here – https://link.uptimeinstitute.com/jBrI0225R005B0o0AZ80n00

You can read the DCD report here – https://www.datacenterdynamics.com/en/marketwatch/data-center-builders-facing-age-old-problem-retirement-youth-recruitment/

Written by Ben Palmer, Sector Lead FM & Operations

Contact him Here