With the expected growth of the data center market comes a proportional increase in the need for personnel. According to a report by the Uptime Institute, the number of employees needed to operate global data centers will increase from around 2 million in 2019 to nearly 2.3 million by 2025. This estimate covers more than 230 specialist positions for data centers of different sizes, with variable selection criteria, ranging from design to operation.
Reasons for shortages
The industry is already suffering from staff shortages. Fifty percent of those surveyed by Uptime Institute said they currently have difficulty finding candidates for vacancies, up from 38% in 2018. The requirement of recruiters and the exclusion of any other candidate who does not match the profile partly explain shortages.
While employers tend to have high demands on selection criteria, data centers do not always require a high level of education. In other words, relevant experience, an internship or work-study training can more than make up for the lack of qualifications in most positions.
Growing investment in training
Globally, the study indicates that the biggest job providers are investing more in training and education by developing internal programs, but they also work in conjunction with universities, colleges, technical schools and private training companies.
Telecommuting positions are increasing, in particular because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but local jobs remain essential for data centers. The growing dependence on digital services means that data centers need 24/7 staff. These key positions therefore require staff living in direct proximity to the data centers.
Geographic location, another problem for recruitment
Add to all these constraints the problems of distance. Many data centers can be located in areas where there are currently few qualified personnel. Many hyperscale data centers are located in remote areas.
Uptime Institute also raised the issue of aging staff. It found that 45% of respondents to the 2019 survey had at least 20 years of experience. The company extrapolated, saying there could be a wave of retirements as well. This will further accentuate the staff shortage. Nonetheless, Uptime acknowledged that it seems likely that this could span many years and will mostly occur in North America and Western Europe.