Salesforce: Channel plays key role in avoiding another skills gap


The technology industry is facing a massive skills shortage, meaning it's unlikely supply will match job demand unless different parts of the industry ecosystem rally together.

So claims Salesforce, which called on partners and customers alike to take action at its World Tour London event this week.

The channel will play a key part in not only creating more awareness around what professional life in tech is like, but also in ensuring organisations open up career paths to a much more diverse set of people, the firm's UK leaders believe.

It’s less of a problem and more of an opportunity though, according to Leon Mangan, vice president of channel and alliances at Salesforce in EMEA, who presented on this topic at Salesforce's partner forum yesterday.

"My presentation was not about technology or cloud. It was about how we can do more as a hyperextended ecosystem," he said.

"I said to the channel [that] as we grow we have growing pains, because we are growing so fast. Our licences in EMEA grew 31% constant currency in revenue last year. And we're the largest region - with it comes a massive opportunity," he said.

"We innovate and are winning all these awards and that's through the partners, so I challenged them to innovate more around our talent pool. We need to get diverse, get a better balance, get more young people, mums returning to work, armed forces veterans, [and] people with disabilities."

Research firm IDC has predicted that the so-called Salesforce economy will create 3.2 million jobs by 2022, but given just around half of people working in tech fell into the industry rather than actively decided on such a career path, without a strong future pipeline, there will be a skills shortage.

To avoid that being the case, Mangan highlighted the importance of teaching STEM subjects and industry stakeholders ‘adopting’ schools to help raise tech literacy and motivate and support younger generations - especially those in underprivileged areas.

In a nod to just one of Salesforce’s big STEM success stories, School 21 in Stratford, Mangan said they were in the “worst 1% in terms of postcode, but the top 5% when it comes to exam results.”

Andrew Lawson, executive vice president and general manager of Salesforce UK, echoed the call to the channel to do their bit.

“It’s not a quick fix. This is a long-term plan," he said. "I give our partners a hard time. Like in Premiership football, they move people between clubs. It’s not good. I’m pushing them to look at new ways of getting involved in this."

Lawson added: “We as an industry, we have challenges. We have to think about how we get people into our industry. Half the people fall into it. Shame on us as an industry for not doing more to get people in and show we are an attractive industry. We need to get better at that."

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.