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As more businesses look to realise the benefits of cloud computing, the study finds that IT professionals with relevant expertise are in high demand but short supply. This hinders many UK organisations’ ability to realise the proven benefits of the cloud, which include reducing IT costs, driving product innovation and increasing headcount.
Growing competition for cloud talent
The Rackspace research forms the second part of a Cloud Computing: State of Play report developed by Rackspace in collaboration with Manchester Business School. It indicates that there is a disturbing gap in the UK IT industry. Analysts at IDC report that almost two-thirds of global enterprises are planning, implementing or using cloud computing. However, in the UK only 19 per cent of UK firms think their IT team is able to implement these solutions.
This is leading to growing competition for cloud talent, as businesses look to hire and retain the best people. Rackspace’s research shows that nearly one-third (32 per cent) of UK organisations have already employed IT professionals specifically for their cloud computing skills. A further 37 per cent are looking to make similar hires, but struggling to find appropriate candidates.
The impact of the shortage of cloud skills in the IT job market has been felt first-hand by Jason Cremins, Chief Executive at Signagelive: “It’s a challenge to find people who have experience in developing cloud architecture and those that can, are incredibly expensive to hire. This is worrying as cloud computing can offer significant benefits not only to IT departments but also to a business’s bottom line.
“Cloud enables organisations to reduce IT costs and reinvest this spend into product development and business expansion, driving competitive advantage. It is a shame to see this skills gap hampering British businesses’ ability to pursue innovation and growth.”
With demand for cloud skills outstripping supply, over 50 per cent of UK businesses are looking to train their existing IT teams to manage cloud computing deployments.
However, there is currently a lack of professional training available to help IT staff up-skill for the cloud era. In fact, two thirds of British businesses (66 per cent) are not aware of any courses that enable their IT professionals to develop the relevant skills.
IT decision-makers interviewed also said that many higher education institutions were missing the mark when it comes to preparing IT students for today’s cloud enabled workplace. A significant 74 per cent of businesses state that universities and colleges need to incorporate cloud skills into relevant IT courses to help address the skills gap in the future.
Bridging the IT skills gap
Dr. Brian Nicholson at Manchester Business School said: “The report shows that the cloud skills gap is widening, at a time when more enterprises are implementing or using cloud computing. With a worrying two thirds of UK firms not aware of any courses to address this, there is a clear need to provide businesses with the necessary skills to fulfill the economic potential of cloud. To meet this need, we are planning to introduce a cloud computing Masters course at Manchester Business School in 2014.”
As the open cloud company, Rackspace fully understands the importance of a cloud savvy workforce, having launched the largest commercially-operated open cloud platform of compute, networking and storage in 2012. To help address the shortfalls revealed in its study, Rackspace today opened the doors of its Open Cloud Academy, an educational program specialising in providing students with affordable IT certifications around open cloud technologies. Located in San Antonio, Texas, the Academy also provides foundation courses online to help upskill IT professionals around the globe.
“The findings from the Rackspace cloud computing research are a call to action,” said Graham Weston, Rackspace Chairman. “Just as we opened sourced our cloud platform, Rackspace will open up our minds and share the ability to educate people about cloud technology.
“Rackspace’s internal training program has helped more than 3000 Rackers gain valued certifications to better equip them for handling complex cloud computing systems, including our open cloud platform. Taking this curriculum to the public is an opportunity to affect real and lasting change in our industry and can act as a catalyst for the economy, infusing well-qualified technical talent into the market, filling a hole we’ve seen for years.”