Employers: we'll boost pay, and even some training, for cloud computing skills

The cloud skills gap is now so intense that a group of researchers is branding the situation as a 'full-blown crisis' that is hurting employers.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Cloud computing was supposed to alleviate many of the headaches associated with running applications and systems -- particularly when it comes to administration and maintenance. However, recent data shows employers are still scrambling to find people with the talent and skills to oversee cloud environments. Cloud computing may have receded a bit past the hype cycle (because it's so ubiquitous now), but demand for cloud skills is red hot.

Photo: Joe McKendrick

The skills gap is now so intense at enterprises that a group of researchers is branding the situation as a "full-blown crisis" that is hurting employers. In a recent survey of 124 IT managers released by OpsRamp, 94% say it is at least "somewhat difficult" to find candidates with the right technology and business skills for driving digital innovation, much of it being cloud. Nine in ten (90%) report that the digital skills gap is either somewhat big, quite big or huge. Nearly one-third of respondents believe that the demand for cloud-native skills outpaces existing talent pools.

This aligns with recent calculations from Indeed.com, which found in the past three years, job searches for cloud computing roles -- such as cloud infrastructure, cloud security, cloud architect, and cloud engineer -- increased 108%. As reported by TechRepublic's Alison DeNisco Rayome, job searches that included keywords related to the top cloud providers, such as "Google Cloud," "Azure," or "AWS," increased by 223%, the report found. Job listings that included these terms were up by 101%.

The problem is that cloud is a victim of its own success -- as seen in the pervasiveness of cloud environments across today's enterprises. More than 60% of IT managers in the OpsRamp survey mentioned that a majority of their applications are either built or run using hybrid cloud architectures. This calls for "vastly different skills, technologies, and processes," the researchers point out.

The OpsRamp survey identified the following skills in demand at this time:

  • DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering 33%
  • Multi-Cloud Monitoring and Management 24%
  • Cloud-Native Development and Maintenance (Microservices architecture) 22%
  • Digital Business Support 11%
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning 11%

There are two fundamental ways to address such a skill shortage: paying competitively, and providing training. Most organizations in the OpsRamp survey understand the critical need to invest in talent: 97% of managers confirm their organizations are either somewhat willing (28%), willing (41%) or very willing (28%) to pay competitively for skilled IT professionals. (Let's hope they're following through with that...)

There is less of a commitment to training and development. In the survey, 37% of IT executives plan to invest more in skill development programs for existing staff as away to embrace automation and foster a digital culture. When it comes to development and training programs, organizations are investing in a combination of internally run programs (62%),self-directed training (61%) and external education programs (53%).,

Corporate culture is perhaps the greatest culprit when it comes to factors holding back the ability to foster or attract cloud and digital skills, the OpsRamp report suggests. "Unless veteran IT staff gain the core competencies to succeed in a digitally driven environment, organizations will not be able to confidently navigate their digital landscape," they warn. Interestingly, "unwillingness to change pre-existing attitudes toward technology" was cited as the major form of fallout seen from cloud skills gaps. In addition, IT managers say lack of cloud expertise is "stifling innovation" and "limiting abilities in adopting new technologies."

Correction: A previous version of this story had OnRamp as the company name. The correct name is OpsRamp.

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