Money & Business

In the Cloud, Many Jobs Go Unfilled

By / Aug 21, 2013 (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

The latest labor data shows a rise in the number of cloud computing jobs, but millions of positions in the industry remain open because of a lack of properly trained professionals—something the National Cloud Technologists Association is trying to change.

A message to parents sending their kids off to college this time of year: As your student begins exploring potential career paths, you may want to give him or her a gentle nudge toward computer science—especially the cloud variety.

Workforces around the world are steps behind when it comes to attaining the skills necessary to thrive in the cloud computing industry.

Here’s why: The economy added 3,600 new cloud computing jobs in July, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly employment situation report. BLS also reported that employment in computer systems design and related services is expected to grow by 3.9 percent annually through 2020—more than double the rate of all industries.

While that’s all welcome news, a report by Microsoft from the International Data Corporation (IDC) earlier this year showed that more than 1.7 million cloud computing jobs remained unfilled at the end of 2012.

“Workforces around the world are steps behind when it comes to attaining the skills necessary to thrive in the cloud computing industry,” Cushing Anderson, program vice president at IDC, said in a statement. “Unlike IT skill shortages in the past, solving this skills gap is extremely challenging, given that the 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 is essential for preparing prospective job candidates to work in cloud-related jobs.”

One group providing that training is the National Cloud Technologists Association, which offers a three-module certification program and various levels of certification—from “cloud master” to “cloud guru.”

“Every IT person is fully capable of doing this new job, it’s just that they need to be trained on how to do so,” said Hart Singh, cofounder and chief learning officer at NCTA. “There’s a dilemma here: Their job title remains unchanged and the job function remains the same—to support the team—but the entire infrastructure is gone. That individual has to migrate his skill set from servicing computers with a screwdriver in their hand to operations in the cloud with drag-and-drop and point-and-click.”

Training is available to all interested parties, but NCTA received a government grant that goes toward subsidizing training costs for displaced IT workers, which make up a good portion of its classes, Singh said. Others are professionals sent by their companies to get a better grasp on the cloud computing space.

“Firms want their employees to come to these classes so they can learn how to select the technology, purchase the technology, negotiate the contracts, develop the migration roadmaps, and so on,” said Singh. “So we’re training these people in parallel while that technology is being implemented.”

But doing that is getting easier, Singh said, because programs like NCTA’s have been around for a while now and can draw on concrete examples of how to successfully work in the cloud.

“These courses no longer work on theoretical scenarios,” he said. “Participants can work on real cases and real projects similar to what they are engaged in. They can actually utilize their classwork and go back to their office and use it as part of that larger project.”

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. More »

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