DCN July 2016 - Page 13

centre of attention Skills for success It goes without saying that increased demand for data centres is good news, but at the moment the industry’s ability to cope with and capitalise on it is questionable. Although our skills base is established, if the industry is going to experience growth over the next five years we will need additional manpower to cope with it – something that is lacking at present. Part of the problem is the fact that we don’t actively promote the industry as a career option – and, as a result, are missing out on the thousands of young people who are technologically aware. But there is reason – the industry doesn’t have a recognised training pathway for new entrants, and we can’t develop any qualifications until we understand and agree the competencies that need to underpin them. At present there is no one organisation that could legitimately claim to have the authority to determine these, although there are plenty that could support this work. Perhaps that’s the solution. Instead of trying to find one organisation to carry this out, a better approach would be to collaborate – to bring employers and industry stakeholders together to identify what’s needed and then develop something based on the myriad of standards that currently exist that might, in time, form the basis for a data centre standard and a best practice guidance document. That document could then be used to identify what competencies are needed within the industry and, therefore, what the industry needs from any qualifications that are developed for it – crucial at a time when additional skilled labour will be needed to cope with increased demand for data centres. ECA recently held a round table event involving a range of figures from the data centre industry, and this was the conclusion that came out of it. We’ll be looking to bring those that attended together again to identify who else can help us review the range of standards that are currently out there for this industry and seeing how we can develop them into something that can be adopted by the industry in the future. Despite the growth and growing confidence in the UK’s data centre market, clients’ understanding of the industry – and the technology it designs and develops – is still relatively low. This is the first step towards helping this industry develop the position and the profile the expertise of its people deserve and to ensure data centres are recognised as the mission critical technology that they are by those who commission, purchase and use them. If you’re interested in joining the group, please get in touch with me by emailing steve.martin@eca.co.uk. We need as much support as possible to help this industry solve the challenges it faces, and ensure it’s ready to survive and thrive in the future – a