Is there a widening skills gap in the cloud industry?

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

A recent whitepaper from IDC sponsored by Microsoft has suggested a widening skills gap for cloud computing, and the trend will continue further through 2013.

In particular the research, of over 600 organisations, showed that as the cloud evolves, cloud-specific skills will grow at six times the rate of overall IT skills, noting that cloud-related skills “represent virtually all of the growth opportunities in IT worldwide”.

According to the paper, worldwide IT jobs will hit just under 30m by the end of 2015; however the 22.3m non-cloud jobs represent a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 0% from 2011, as opposed to the 7m cloud-related jobs having a 26% CAGR, going up from 2.7m in 2011.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, broken down into demographics North America is where the most cloud-oriented jobs will be in 2015 (2.7m), representing a 22% growth over four years. Asia/Pacific (2.3m, 32% growth) and EMEA (1.4m, 24% growth) trail behind, although all represent solid growth.

However, the report noted that EMEA was “a complex mix of developed and emerging countries” and that their adoption of private cloud compensated for more struggling adoption in the public sphere.

One of the more fascinating titbits from the research related to the essential skills of cloud computing, and what employers may be looking for most. Understanding the risks and consequences of cloud computing proved to be the most popular, ahead of understanding cloud’s impact on IT service management and taking steps to successfully adopting the cloud.

But why are many of these jobs not filled at the moment? “IT managers consistently report that while the economy represents a challenge to filling cloud-related positions, finding applicants with the appropriate expertise, certification, or training is a much bigger issue”, the report notes.

The research also touched upon the standard cloud usage statistics, and found that nearly two in three companies are using or are planning to use the cloud, yet the biggest pain point for these enterprises was security, access and data control.

Cushing Anderson, IDC program vice president, said of the results: “Despite modest growth of the IT sector overall in the US, cloud-ready jobs are increasing as we head into 2013, but with this increase comes the harsh reality that workforces around the world are steps behind when it comes to attaining the skills necessary to thrive in the cloud computing industry.

“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,” he added.

Even though a skills gap appears evident, it has to be good news that there are going to be plenty of cloud jobs for those who want to work in the industry. What skills would you look for if you were an employer?

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