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iMasons Bridging the Talent Gap in a Booming Industry

Infrastructure Masons has been featured in the October issue of Data Centre Magazine. In this exclusive interview, Jeff Omelchuck discussed accelerating the flow of talent into the digital infrastructure industry

When members of the iMasons Advisory Council are asked, “What keeps you up at night?” the top responses always include how to source the talent needed to meet their planned growth and increasing the diversity of the people in the industry. The people who built the physical and logical foundation of the internet are “greying out”, nearing retirement, and they are concerned about this loss of experience as the industry faces unprecedented growth. While these leaders are mostly white men, they recognize that the readiest source of talent to succeed them is women and people of other under-represented groups. Increasing diversity is not only a practical way to ease the talent shortage. This diversity of experience and perspective is vital as we build the infrastructure to serve a global population. Plus, employment in the sector is another way that digital infrastructure can accelerate sustainable development worldwide – we can hire a diverse workforce to serve diverse communities.

In their 2021 report on job demand in the data centre industry, Uptime Institute reported that employment in the data centre infrastructure sector will increase from 2 million FTE in 2019 to 2.3 million FTE in 2025. This may not sound like a booming industry, but these figures don’t include replacing people who leave their jobs, those who are “greying out.”

We are often asked by Universities to assist in establishing data centre programs. To address this need, in 2020, iMasons launched a Capstone project at Hampton University as a pilot. Due to its success, the program will now be expanding to three more universities throughout 2021 and 2022. Internships are another key strategy to bring new early career professional talent into companies in our industry, and many companies are seeing success there. CommScope and Vertiv both have excellent programs that are profiled on the coming pages.

The above programs focus primarily on university graduates, but we often hear that the skills shortage is most acute at the technician and trades levels. We’ll take a look at Microsoft’s program to create and support Data Center Academies to train skilled technicians in partnership with a dozen colleges that are in close perimeter to Microsoft data centres.

So, while our industry is growing at a breakneck pace, the industry is also working in partnership with the education sector to meet that need, and those efforts are quickly accelerating. Together, we can bridge the talent gap and make for a more vibrant tomorrow!

Read the full article here (begins on page 104)

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