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What Can Data Centre Employers Do To Attract Skills?

Author: Jim Hines

Published date: 2021/12

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A retiring workforce coupled with the lack of young people entering the field means that securing skills has become increasingly challenging for data centre organisations. 

Furthermore, the acceleration of digital transformation during the pandemic means data centres have become the linchpin for any business reliant on digital and cloud-based solutions. 

According to the Uptime Institute Global Data Survey 2020, 50% of data centre managers reported difficulty finding qualified candidates to fill open roles. The report also revealed that the global data centre industry employed 2 million people in 2019, which is expected to rise to 2.3 million by 2025. 

It means that employers must tackle the skills shortages now if they stand a chance of adding an extra 300,000 workers to the sector in the coming years. 

Spotlight on the UK 

November 2021 saw the launch of the much-awaited Digital Futures Programme at the University Technical College in Heathrow (UTC Heathrow) - a new curriculum designed to educate the next generation of data centre talent and help future-proof the industry. 

The programme, designed in collaboration with CNet Training, VIRTUS Data centres, CyrusOne, CBRE, Amazon Web Services, LMG, ARK Data centres and Yondr, is the latest initiative that targets young people in education.

While such programmes will prove fruitful in several years time, what about UK employers who urgently need skills now? 

Location, location, location

A key issue for data centre recruitment comes down to geography. The South East is home to most of England’s data centres, with Slough having the highest concentration of centres in the UK. In January 2021, hyperscale developer Yondr announced it would be building two new data centres in Slough, which will create 50 full-time data centre roles upon completion. 

While the sector is growing increasingly digital, allowing for more remote opportunities, it still requires feet on the ground, and the South East location is proving to be a barrier to attracting talent from outside of the area.

Here, we explore how employers are enticing professionals to join them in the south of England. 

1. Relocation allowances/bonuses

Of course, some professionals will be in a position and willing to relocate for work. However, in today’s candidate-driven market, where their skills are in higher demand than ever before, they will expect assistance and/or incentives to enable this.

Providing relocation assistance is nothing new for employers across all sectors, but the impact of the pandemic on skills shortages has given rise to companies offering sign-on bonuses. Not only does this help them stand out from the competition in job listings, but it’s an additional incentive for any professionals required to relocate for work. 


2. Paid travel 

HS2 will speed up journeys from the north to the south of England, but with phased completion touted between 2029 and 2033, it’s still a long way off. In the meantime, data centre employers are upping the ante on travel benefits to encourage professionals from outside of the region to opt into a commute. Such incentives include allowing workers to claim back mileage, providing company lease cars or offering free/discounted passes for public transport. 


3. Paid/Discounted accommodation 

For professionals unprepared to relocate their families, employers are increasingly striking deals with local hotel chains and private rental landlords to provide workers with a place to stay while they are working.

While such arrangements have been commonplace in industries like construction and hospitality for some time, we’ve seen more data centres offer such incentives in the last 18 months. 

Quick fix?

It’s clear that data centre employers need to act fast and invest in the right added extras that will encourage professionals to relocate or commit to a long commute. It’s a huge outlay that, coupled with increasing salaries in this area, will place some organisations under significant strain in the coming years. 

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of initiatives, like the Digital Futures Programme, which are solely focused on encouraging young people to pursue a career in the sector. In our next blog post, we look at some of the long-term solutions from the government, education sector and private enterprise that are set to close the data centre skills gap for good. 

To learn more about our dedicated data centre division and hear about some of the exciting and rewarding data centre jobs currently available, call 0207 553 5660 or email us at info@prsjobs.com or Jim.Hines@prsjobs.com 07947842455