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Splunk vs the skills shortage – trying to help organisations gain the right skills

Splunk’s CEO Douglas Merritt explains how the organisation has been working to help people both in and outside its organisation to gain the skills needed to use its big data technology

Data analysis firm Splunk has offered attendees of its .conf2016 conference the chance to ensure Splunk skills can be spread throughout their organisations.

Splunk offered $5,000 worth of Splunk education training credit to each attendee to use within their firms in an attempt to fill a skills gap.

Douglas Merritt, CEO of Splunk claimed: “This represents a $20m investment from Splunk to you.”

Educating the masses

In the UK, computing graduates have the highest rate of unemployment six months after finishing their degrees, and many say this is because they lack the skills needed to go straight into a career.

With the amount of data growing in firms, the importance of analysis is growing, and there is a shortage of people with data scientist skills, as well as an increase in the number of firms using technologies such as Splunk to manage large amounts of information.

Merritt pointed out that with any growing technology, the need for skills in using that technology also grows.

Merritt said: “Every technology before us that has become so successful, VMware, Salesforce, Oracle, there’s a constant push.”

Continued education

But, according to Merritt, the offer of upskilling for .conf attendees is a “nice edition” in the quest to tackle the Splunk skills shortage, and that firms can “never have enough” skilled employees.  

“I do have proof that if you are more educated and trained then you do a better job ensuring success.”

According to Merritt, 1,200 people attended Splunk’s conference “university” and it issued 600 certifications in the lead-up to the event.

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Merritt also announced more than 5 million university students worldwide have been given access to advanced Splunk certifications, and that the firm would offer more free online courses.  

“Rolling education out is critical, and last year with our partners we actually created an education platform where top partners get education for free and strategic partners get education if they request it,” Merritt said.

“The real leverage is going to come through channel, through university programmes, through the continued advance of free online training and free e-learning training, which we’re releasing courses in that area every month.”

A lack of specific industry skills is a common complaint for firms looking to hire new employees, and many believe this kind of collaboration between firms, education establishments and tech companies is what is needed to fill roles.

Read more on IT education and training

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From my personal experience, it is the UK Government who are to blame for this shortage of IT Skills. But the Businesses also need to take some of the blame also.

I was one of the many made redundant in the 2012 period. I have a keen interest in computing so my newsletters kept telling me that business and government was saying the UK had a high skills shortage for IT Skills. Yet, when I tried to find out just what these skills were, this was never mentioned in the articles which talked about it and neither could the Job Centre tell me what they were so I could try and see if I can learn about them. It was only last month that I managed to track down the answers from a report from the Science and Technology committee.  

Twice now, I have been forced to stop looking into  learning IT Skills for myself. The first time I taught myself HTML5 and CSS3 then when I wanted to learn more I was forced to visit the job centre each day. This time, after telling the job centre of  my plan to learn the skills such as online marketing and big data which are listed in the committee report, the job centre wish me to take on a work placement for my previous role of Administration, when I have over 15 years experience in it already, plus a volunteer with Citizens Advice. 

As I started at the start of my comments, the government is not interesting in thinking about the future. They  want the instant results, which make them look good in getting people into work. They class full time work as 17 hours a week, they have often told me this.

On the  other hand businesses don't want to have to train anyone anymore, you have to have those skills already.