TechEd 2013: Microsoft sheds light on cloud skills shortages

Skills gap

Nearly two million cloud-related jobs went unfilled last year, because IT pros lacked the experience and skills needed to do them.

That's according to a recent study by IDC and Microsoft into the impact cloud computing is having on the global employment market, which featured responses from 600 HR managers from across the globe.

The report's findings suggest cloud is going to be responsible for driving "almost all" of the growth within the IT jobs market over the next three years, as adoption of the technology continues to take-off.

These are sophisticated skills that are very difficult to tease out during an interview process.

However, it is feared increasing numbers of these jobs could go unfilled, unless IT pros make more of an effort to get trained up and gain experience in cloud technologies.

Speaking at the Microsoft TechEd conference in New Orleans, the software giant's director of learning, Ken Rosen, explained: "In that study we asked how many of [the HR manager's] open roles [in the cloud] remained unfilled...and IDC concluded there are 1.7m jobs that have been posted and gone unfilled over the past year."

When asked what skills were in shortest supply, the study's respondents said they were struggling to find people who could assess the risk associated with moving to the cloud, and the impact this would have on IT service management.

They also cited difficulties in finding candidates that could create cloud migration plans.

"What's the common theme among all these? They are not low-level implementation skills," said Rosen.

"They are not installation, configuration-type things. These are sophisticated skills that are very difficult to tease out during an interview process."

HR managers may need to rethink the recruitment criteria they use when it comes to hiring cloud professionals, suggested Rosen, to ensure more of these vacancies get filled in future.

"There are not a lot of people out there today that have experience and proof of experience [in cloud technologies]," he said.

"So what we're seeing now is a resurgence of interest in training and certification in the IT field, particularly around cloud-related skills."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.