Study: IT Workforce Unprepared for Cloud Jobs

Some 1.7 million cloud-related IT jobs went unfilled in 2012 for lack of skilled workers, and the number of cloud positions available will swell 26 percent per year to about seven million by 2015.

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If there’s one thing that could slow the inexorable rush to cloud computing, it's the dearth of talent trained and certified in the ways of the cloud.

A new Microsoft Corp.-sponsored report from analyst firm IDC says 1.7 million cloud-related IT jobs went unfilled in 2012 and the number of available cloud positions will swell 26 percent per year to about seven million by 2015.

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This puts the United States' pace of cloud jobs growth well ahead of general IT employment, which is expected to continue its tepid climb of less than 3 percent through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The gap -- coupled with the state of the  IT workforce, which remains unprepared to handle advanced cloud jobs -- is putting a renewed focus on retraining tech workers and pushing students to focus on cloud skills and certifications.

“Workforces around the world are steps behind when it comes to attaining the skills necessary to thrive in the cloud computing industry,” said IDC’s Cushing Anderson. “Unlike IT skill shortages in the past, solving this skills gap is extremely challenging, given that cloud brings a new set of skills, which haven’t been needed in the past. There is no one-size-fits-all set of criteria for jobs in cloud computing. Therefore, training and certification are essential for preparing prospective job candidates to work in cloud-related jobs.”

IDC interviewed more than 600 hiring managers globally for the report, titled Climate Change: Cloud’s Impact on IT Organizations and Staffing, which found the following:

  • Nearly two-thirds of enterprises are planning, implementing or using cloud computing, and more than half deem cloud computing to be a high priority.
  • 75 percent of businesses surveyed worry about security and data access and control issues related to the cloud.
  • Most cloud computing IT positions remain unfilled because of the lack of trained, certified or experienced candidates.
  • Nearly all of the job growth opportunities in IT over the next two years will be related to cloud computing.

The US represents 35 percent of overall IT spending globally, but accounts for a 62 percent of worldwide spending for cloud services.

“A cloud-savvy workforce is essential to the success of the IT industry’s financial health,” said Anderson.

Microsoft Corp., for its part, is using the report to promote its efforts to boost cloud computing training and certification. The software vendor added a number of cloud-specific certifications, including new Windows 8 certs that focus on cloud delivery. The company also launched the Microsoft Virtual Academy for working IT professionals looking to add skills in cloud computing through self-paced multimedia training modules. Similar cloud-based curriculumis available to high school and college students hoping to pursue IT careers though Microsoft’s IT Academy.

The two Microsoft education offerings “are examples of our commitment to the current and future workforce,” said Lutz Ziob, general manager for Microsoft Learning. “The opportunity that the cloud presents is significant, and we want to be certain the workforce has the skills to share in that opportunity.

“Our goal is to prepare the existing workforce and students for the jobs of tomorrow and empower them to develop their skills as future IT experts, innovators, software developers and beyond,” said Ziob.

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