Uptime Institute: Lack of Specialist Data Center Staff an Increasing Concern

Uptime Institute Data Center Staffing GRAPHICIn every geographic region, data center capacity is dramatically expanding in a build-out of historic proportions, says Uptime Institute in its newly released industry report. That requires people – to design, build and operate data centers. According to Uptime Institute’s global study, the availability (or lack) of specialist staff will be an increasing concern for all types of data centers, from mega-growth hyperscalers to small, private enterprise facilities.

By quantifying demand, this research by Uptime Institute is intended to help raise awareness of the strong employment opportunities for job seekers and give employers, education institutions, and governments. It’s also a way to measure the need for investment in workforce training and education.

Data center staff requirements are forecast to grow globally from about 2 million full-time employees in 2019 to nearly 2.3 million by 2025. Most demand is expected in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by North America, Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

In the large and mature data center markets of the U.S. and Western Europe, there is concern that many employees are due to retire about the same time, causing an additional surge in demand, especially for senior roles. This ‘silver tsunami’ effect may last for the coming decade.

“This study helps us as an industry better understand the size and scope of the staffing challenge,” said Rhonda Ascierto, Vice President of Research, Uptime Institute. “It is also a quantitative assessment of the long-term career opportunities available. This is a fast-growing and dynamic industry – and we need people from all backgrounds, all over the world.”

Historic Growth of Demand:

  • Demand growth will mainly come from cloud and colocation data centers. Cloud data centers – either owned or leased by cloud/Internet companies – will require the most staff, by a significant margin.
  • Enterprise data centers are expected to continue to employ many staff, although the cloud workforce will surpass enterprise after 2025.

Staffing Requirements:

  • Most positions will require either a university/college or technical trade school degree or – critically – equivalent experience that can be substituted for a formal education. Employers should reevaluate their current job requirements to attract a wider pool of diverse talent.
  • More education and training, including on-the-job, will be key to meeting future demand.
  • Technical staff are notoriously difficult to recruit for data centers. Mechanical and electrical engineers in strategy and operations roles, and all types of controls and monitoring employees, are among the technical staff that will be increasingly needed through (at least) 2025.

To create the forecast, Uptime Institute Intelligence estimated demand for more than 230 specialist job roles (organized into nine job domains) needed to design, build, and operate data centers. Estimates are based on industry input and extensive expert advice from across Uptime Institute.