Tech Report: More IT Jobs Need Cloud Skills

California Jobs Challenge scholars study for cybersecurity exams at Cypress College.
California Jobs Challenge scholars Maria Ramirez, 19, of Santa Maria, right, and Dulce Cardona, 19, of Stockton, study for their upcoming cybersecurity exams at Cypress College in Cypress, California, Nov. 26, 2019. (Staff Sgt. Crystal Housman/U.S. Air National Guard photo)

REDMOND, Wash. -- Demand for "cloud-ready" information technology (IT) workers will grow by 26% annually through 2015, with as many as 7 million cloud-related jobs available worldwide, according to an International Data Corporation (IDC) white paper sponsored by Microsoft Corp. and released today.

However, IT hiring managers report that the biggest reason they failed to fill an existing 1.7 million open cloud-related positions in 2012 is because job seekers lack the training and certification needed to work in a cloud-enabled world, according to the IDC white paper, Climate Change: Cloud's Impact on IT Organizations and Staffing (November 2012).

In the United States, the IT sector is experiencing modest growth of IT jobs in general, with the average growth in IT employment between 1.1% and 2.7% per year through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, amid modest growth of IT jobs, cloud-sector jobs are increasing swiftly. With the workforce unprepared to take on these jobs, there is an urgent need to retrain existing IT professionals and encourage students to pursue cloud-related IT trainings and certifications, according to the IDC white paper.

"Despite modest growth of the IT sector overall in the U.S., cloud-ready jobs are increasing as we head into 2013, but with this increase comes the harsh reality that workforces around the world are steps behind when it comes to attaining the skills necessary to thrive in the cloud computing industry," said Cushing Anderson, program vice president at IDC. "Unlike IT skill shortages in the past, solving this skills gap is extremely challenging, given that [the] cloud brings a new set of skills, which haven't been needed in the past. There is no one-size-fits-all set of criteria for jobs in cloud computing. Therefore, training and certification is essential for preparing prospective job candidates to work in cloud-related jobs."

The IDC white paper investigates the impact that cloud computing will have on IT employment around the world and its influence on the way organizations staff their IT departments. IDC interviewed more than 600 hiring managers across the globe for this study.

The general findings of the IDC white paper include:

  • Globally, almost two-thirds of enterprises are planning, implementing or using cloud computing, and more than 50% of businesses agree that cloud computing is a high priority.
  • More than three-quarters of businesses have apprehension about the security, access or data control of cloud computing.
  • A lack of training, certification or experience are the top three reasons why cloud positions are not filled.
  • However, cloud-related skills represent virtually all the growth opportunities in IT employment worldwide, and demand for cloud-related positions will grow by 26% annually through 2015.

Regional findings of the IDC white paper include the following:

  • Although the growth of IT jobs in the United States is slow, the growth picture is better outside the U.S. The overall number of IT positions in end-user organizations globally will grow at a 4.3% compound annual growth rate between 2011 and 2015 and reach 29.3 million in 2015, according to IDC.
  • According to IDC's regional forecasts, the U.S. accounted for 62% of worldwide spending for public IT cloud services last year, compared with 35% of worldwide IT spending in general. Canada will be a much slower adopter of public IT cloud services but a more aggressive adopter of private IT cloud services. Because of Canada's smaller job base, though, cloud-generated jobs will grow 30% faster in Canada than in the United States.
  • The emerging markets of Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific will be home to more than 40% of new cloud-related jobs. These markets are predicted to grow at 34% annually until 2015.
  • Last year, Europe, the Middle East and Africa's spending on public IT cloud services was approximately 40% of North America's; however, its investment in private clouds was equal to or more than that of North America, illustrating an aggressiveness in moving to private clouds as compared with other regions. In EMEA, IDC forecasts that cloud-related IT jobs will grow by 24% per year to about 1.4 million by 2015.
  • Asia Pacific (APAC) will adopt private IT cloud services more aggressively than either EMEA or North America. Cloud-related IT jobs will grow at 32% per year to more than 2.3 million in APAC by the end of 2015.

Training and Certification Key to Overcoming the Lack of Cloud-Ready Workers

The shortage of appropriate skilled candidates to fill cloud jobs is the No. 1 challenge for companies looking to bolster their cloud capabilities, according to the research.

"Cloud computing is crucial to the bottom line of the company; it creates cost savings and efficiencies for companies and their customers," said IDC's Anderson. "Therefore, a cloud-savvy workforce is essential to the success of the IT industry's financial health. In anticipation of the technology evolution to the cloud, Microsoft recently announced that it reinvented certifications specifically for the cloud, including the forthcoming certifications in Windows 8, which have cloud computing focus areas. These are more important than ever for current and future technologists who want to gain the skill set needed to work in the cloud and for companies looking to benefit from the cloud."

For the current workforce, Microsoft launched the Microsoft Virtual Academy making it simple for the active professional to add critical skills. The Microsoft Virtual Academy is a program for IT professionals to gain access to free self-paced training resources using combinations of video and text.

Microsoft is also helping fill the future workforce pipeline by providing training and certification through the Microsoft IT Academy. Ensuring that the next generation of technologists is prepared for the new IT jobs in the cloud, the Microsoft IT Academy program provides middle school, high school and college students with the technology-based skills needed for successful careers in tomorrow's IT cloud environment.

"Our Microsoft Virtual Academy and Microsoft IT Academy are examples of our commitment to the current and future workforce," said Lutz Ziob, general manager of Microsoft Learning. "The opportunity that the cloud presents is significant, and we want to be certain that the workforce has the skills to share in that opportunity. Our goal is to continue to prepare the existing workforce and students for the jobs of tomorrow and empower them to develop their skills as future IT experts, innovators, software developers and beyond."

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