Is there a skills shortage or are we not looking hard enough?
Yes, there is a skills shortage. Whether you are talking about the construction, engineering, or IT element of the data centre sector there is definitely a skills shortage. In a recent survey (see below) by Business Critical Solutions 90% of respondents anticipate a decline in the supply of staff and 70% believe that this decline will be accompanies by a rise in demand.
But this skills shortage is not specific to the data centre sector. According to government research in the UK 186000 skilled engineers are needed annually until 2024 to plug the gap (this will never be achieved!) and almost 20% of the current workforce are due to retire by 2024.
So, when you have a shortage across all associated sectors where do you look for staff? And how do you manage the problem?
There is obviously no defined answer to the questions, but a number of elements that you can implement to manage the solution.
Lets address the elephants in the room…
Not everyone can transfer to the data centre sector.
It is not simply a big shed full of M&E services. Data Centres are complex facilities that are designed and built at the cutting edge of engineering. They are built at pace and the clients are demanding. You need to have certain skills to be successful in the sector. Sometimes the role is urgent and data centre experience is simply essential for the role, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Not all clients are flexible enough in their approach.
Are you recruiting or skills or are you recruiting for attributes? Do you need someone with 5 years data centre experience, or can you consider someone with 2? Can you look at someone from a similar critical engineering sector? Is it essential they have data centre experience?
What can you do?
Candidates that want to work in the sector need to highlight their relevant experience when applying for roles. You need to reach out to those in the sector for advice and guidance. You need to read about the industry, attend events, immerse yourself in the sector. The right attitude can take you a long way.
Organisations need to adapt the recruitment process. Are your job descriptions/adverts too specific to the data centre sector? Are your interviews skills based or focussed on attributes? Do you have a diverse interview panel? Are you looking for skills in other sectors? Do you have an internal training programme to educate people about the sector? Have you established an entry level training and education scheme? Do you have a unique proposition?
So what is the answer to the question?
The answer is yes there is a skills shortage and yes there is a shortage of people looking outside of the sector for skills. You cant solve one without the other, as always a challenge is better solved with collaboration.
The long term solution is investing in training and development, and increasing the exposure of the sector so that data centres is seen as a career of choice.
The short term solution is being agile and adaptable. Look for great people and find them a role, don’t simply look for people that match a job description as it is very likely you will never find them.
And collaborate as an industry to come up with long term solutions…
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller