How businesses must stay ahead of the cloud skills gap

It is well known that IT skills are in fierce demand across the country – but evidence is mounting that Cloud experts are now, and will remain, the most sought-after professionals in the years to come. Stay ahead of the cloud skills gap.

We have tracked demand in IT hiring by analysing the number of roles sought across the country over the course of the year. Our latest report found that during Q3 of 2017, the total number of roles we saw advertised across leading tech disciplines (Mobile, Web Development, Cloud, Big Data and IT Security) fell by 6%.

Despite this slight slowdown, demand for Cloud professionals accounted for 16% of IT roles advertised in the report – an increase of 4% compared to the previous quarter. Edinburgh and Leeds, in particular, showed the highest spikes in hiring demand for Cloud professionals this year. This suggests that organisations in some of the UK’s alternative tech hubs are increasing their investment in Cloud technology, which is a large part of ongoing digital transformation programmes. In fact, a study from the European Commission found that Cloud computing will create 1.6 million jobs by 2020.

Below, we discuss what smart employers should be doing to ensure that they have access to the right talent and can stay ahead of the cloud skills curve.


Attract and retain people with the right Cloud computing skills

As Cloud computing is experiencing something of a golden age, there is a huge demand for people with cloud skills to help businesses migrate to new systems. The diversity of the Cloud providers available means Cloud professionals are having to develop skills for a variety of platforms. Physically hosting and maintaining their own servers and expensive suites of software has become impractical and costly for a wider range of businesses. As a result, more and more companies are now using hybrid cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

The combination of public and privately designed platforms means Cloud professionals, who can seamlessly operate between both systems and work with these hybrids, are needed more than ever. This process takes a specific set of cloud skills, putting pressure on a limited pool of experts.


Re-vamp Cloud job specs to include new Cloud skills sets

Hybrid clouds have emerged from the evolution of data centres into Cloud environments and they are quickly surpassing both public and private clouds in terms of popularity. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), markets for hybrid cloud will grow from the $25 billion global market we saw in 2014 to an $84 billion global market by 2019. With such large growth predicted, it is no surprise that Cloud hiring is already on the upturn.

Organisations around the world are hurrying to move their systems to the Cloud, which means recruiting for talent in traditional software and hardware roles is no longer the highest priority for businesses. That’s not to say that those skills are no longer a requirement, it is simply the fact that we are seeing the biggest transformations take place across the Cloud profession, placing greater importance on securing this rare talent. Our latest Tech Cities Job Watch report found in particular that there is an on-going requirement for professionals with key skills in Hybrid Cloud Platform technologies and Cloud software platforms, such as MS Office365.

One factor that threatens the future of Cloud is the ever-looming skills shortage. As well as a scarcity of talented applicants for roles, it could be argued that existing IT teams are generally more versed in legacy systems. Training programmes should not be neglected, as Cloud presents a vital and ongoing need – not a temporary blip.


How can companies attract more Cloud talent?

To combat the shortage in the long term, organisations should offer internal training programmes to their staff. Up-skilling your IT employees have a number of beneficial long-term effects, especially as an incentive to improve employee retention. These programmes take time, however, and leave the problem of what to do in the meantime. Consultancy is another option. Businesses should seek consultants who will dedicate time to mentor an organisation’s in-house professionals so that eventually their employee’s knowledge becomes self-sustaining.

The most effective way to combat the Cloud skills shortage will be to pay the premium for the skills you need. This does mean offering a salary that aligns with what they are worth to the company, which, for many businesses, can be significant. However, other factors, such as opportunities for ongoing training and the quality of life presented by cities outside of the Capital, can help entice talent from larger clusters.

As we approach the end of 2015, all signs seem to indicate that the strong demand for Cloud systems, and talented IT professionals to deliver them, is only going to increase. Staying ahead of the curve means recognising this trend and taking a long-term view of investment in Cloud technology and development.

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