Focus on the solution, not on the problem.. Solving the data centre talent shortage.
Talent and how to attract it is becoming a more frequent topic of conversation as the data centre industry expands. The Uptime Institute has today released the first global staffing report : ‘The people challenge: Global data center staffing forecast 2021-2025’. The report highlights the challenges we face over the next five years (link at the end of the article).
The question for me is not what are the challenges? The question needs to be are we each doing enough to overcome these challenges?
I am lucky that in doing my day job and the ‘Inside Data Centre Podcast’ I talk with people across the globe about the sector and the challenges we face. Below are some of my take-aways from these conversations regarding how we as an industry can help manage the increasing talent challenge.
If you have never heard of the data centre industry, then you are not going to choose a career in the sector. This is something we can all help to overcome, spread the message of data centres to schools, colleges, work colleagues, friends, etc. Share content on social media, tell everyone what the industry is and why you should want to work in it. And when someone asks what you do for a living be proud of the industry and what it represents.
Let’s be honest the industry is dominated by middle aged white men (like myself!) and we need to attract a more diverse workforce. The workforce is also all likely to reach retirement age at the same time; we need the next generation take over the reigns. We need to attract people from minorities and encourage them into the industry. Fresh ideas will only help take the industry forward. Look to other sectors and industries for this talent, open your doors to those that want to explore the industry and encourage new ways of thinking. If they can’t come to the industry we need to take the industry to them.
We spend hours talking about attraction but have you ever worked on retention? Keeping the best talent in the industry is essential. Not only because we need the people, but we also need the knowledge. Sharing that knowledge is imperative or we risk losing it. Create a great culture, make people feel valued, be open to new ideas, and encourage flexibility.
There needs to be more data centre specific education programmes. Whether that is for those entering the industry or those looking to gain cross sector training, we need some kind of education to upskill these people. I regularly get contacted by people asking to recommend courses, which is easier said than done! Work with the educational providers to produce sector specific education programmes.
I don’t mean the ones where we all get together and talk mega-watts and have a few drinks. I mean events where we talk about these challenges and work out how to solve them as a community. We are stronger together and the talent challenge is one we all have to face in the coming years.
Are you looking for the impossible?
Sometimes I have to be honest with clients and tell them that what they are looking for doesn’t exist and that they need to adapt their criteria. Asking for 10 years data centre experience eliminates a large portion of the workforce. We need to think outside the box, we need to look to other sectors, and we need to be flexible.
We can do more…
There are many things we can all do to help manage these challenges and as I said on a recent episode of my podcast: if we all help one person to join the industry, we will achieve our mission. So what are you waiting for?
You can download the Uptime Institute report here – https://link.uptimeinstitute.com/jBrI0225R005B0o0AZ80n00