Datacentre industry launches bootcamp to plug skills shortage

The Data Centre Alliance has launched a bootcamp in collaboration with industry and universities to plug datacentre skills gap

Datacentre operators in Europe are having real difficulties finding suitable new employees for positions in what is possibly the least known but fastest growing area of the economy, according to the industry body Data Centre Alliance (DCA).

The not-for-profit organisation has devised a datacentre bootcamp following wide-ranging discussion with datacentre companies and academia, including the University of East London, Leeds University and CNet Training.

The bootcamp will comprise datacentre training and suitability assessment – which aims to give graduates the additional knowledge they need to successfully apply for datacentre-related jobs. Those professionals that make it through the tough selection and assessment process will be ideally pre-selected candidates for interview by the datacentre operators.

“The bootcamp students will learn many of the well-hidden secrets of the datacentre industry," said Simon Campbell-Whyte, DCA’s executive director.

“They will be amazed to find out just how many things in their lives require a datacentre to make them happen – everything from their Facebook status updates, tweets and emails, to holiday bookings, traffic lights and parcel deliveries.

“They will also learn how datacentres fit into the world economy as massive ‘factories’ often the size of a dozen or more football pitches – and each consuming as much energy as a small city,” he added.

Plugging the datacentre skills gap

According to the DCA, there is a skills shortage in the datacentre field, despite media reports claiming that 73 applicants fight for every graduate post in the UK's capital and that an estimated 20,000 graduates in the UK are still out of work months after completing their degrees.

“Due to the specialised nature of the skills required in the datacentre industry there is a limited pool of exceptional workers out there and, up until now, there have been no graduate programmes specific to the skills required,” said Rob Coupland, UK managing director of pan-European datacentre operator TelecityGroup, one of the sponsors of the pilot DCA Boot Camp.

“Only through the ongoing development of IT skills will we be able to continue to deliver the level of service our customers expect. This reflects the critical importance of the role of the datacentre managers and engineers in today’s datacentre industry,” he added.

Specialist datacentre training

The DCA datacentre bootcamp, sponsored by datacentre operators such as Telehouse and TelecityGroup, is free to successful applicants. Students will receive training from international datacentre training specialist CNet Training, which will deliver the course alongside skilled professionals from DCA and lecturers from the University of East London.

The bootcamp’s rigorous pre-selection and “a no-nonsense weeding-out process” will lead to a supply of potential employees who are well-positioned to become datacentre professionals in London, said Telehouse’s UK director, Andrew Fray.

Once the candidates understand the significance of datacentres in the world economy, CNet Training will introduce them to a new discipline of “critical thinking” – similar to that taught in the nuclear and airline industries, according to the training company.

“This is because if they can’t do the joined-up thinking necessary to avoid major datacentre outages, like we’ve seen in recent years, then they don’t belong in our industry,” said Andrew Stevens, CNet’s chief executive.

“Every minute that a datacentre is out of action can affect millions of people and cost billions of pounds, so it is essential that guarding against outages becomes part of every datacentre professional’s DNA,” he added.

The datacentre-based IT training will provide in-depth technical introduction to the elements associated with efficient operation and maintenance of a datacentre, and will expose students to the technical career opportunities in this IT sector.

“Our mission is to research and develop best practice for the benefit of its members and the datacentre industry globally,” said Campbell-Whyte.

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