It’s that time of year students have all been anticipating: results day. Thousands of students across the country are picking up their GSCE and A-Levels. Many will go on to college or university with ambitions to follow newly popular technology career paths such as gaming and app development or software specialities, but how many will have their hearts set on working in a data centre role? Unfortunately the answer is very few, if any. The data centre industry is in fact, the forgotten corner of the IT world. Perhaps one of the biggest problems is that there’s very little student awareness of data centres, or what a career in the industry entails. A job in a data centre is certainly not one that’s covered regularly in the media, or in the academic curriculum. But while increasing awareness through education certainly plays a vital role in encouraging school leavers to pursue a career in this field, it’s not fair to lay the blame solely on the school’s doorstep. Data centre providers, and the wider industry, also have a part to play in addressing the problem.It’s a known fact that a skills shortage already exists within the data centre industry, but if more action isn’t taken now, the problem is only going to get worse. Our recent research revealed that 29% of senior IT decision makers in the UK feel that insufficient skills are causing a tech deficit within their business. Perhaps more worryingly, over a third of UK respondents (34%) felt that the need for additional skills posed as a risk to infrastructure transition within their organisation. So without the right data centre skills in place, organisations run the risk of falling behind as the business and technology landscape continues to change.At Colt, we often find that recruiting people into the data centre industry can be difficult. There’s a perception that a role in the sector might not be very interesting, but in reality it’s a very exciting time to be joining the industry. The industry is growing at a rapid pace. It’s recently been recognised by the UK government as a key contributor to economic growth. And jobwise, a whole host of opportunities exist – whether that’s a role in engineering a data centre build, managing the facility, or a security specialist within the data centre. But in order to attract more young people to the sector, the industry and the education system have to act now. As a sector, this means doing more to excite young people about a career in the data centre industry. This can be done through early engagement with schools before career choices are narrowed down and by providing an easy transition from education into business. At the same time, we need to continue to encourage students to focus on developing their potential alongside more formal qualifications. Opportunities to gain these skills and attributes are often not found in the classroom – they come from what young people choose to get involved in outside of a formal learning environment. Only a concerted effort on both fronts will get the result we desire.
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