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How can data center leaders compete in the war for talent?

Become an employer of choice by broadening job requirements, prioritizing the human experience and more.

October 19, 2021

Staffing challenges continue to plague the data center sector. Many skilled technicians are nearing retirement just as demand soars for their expertise. According to the Uptime Institute’s 2020 Data Center Survey, 50 percent of respondents had a hard time finding qualified candidates to fill jobs. That’s up from 38 percent and 41 percent in 2018 and 2019.

Meanwhile, the pressure to maintain an “always-on” facility grows ever more relentless. It’s going to take a lot more people power to design, build and manage critical infrastructure. The Uptime Institute anticipates data center staffing needs will grow from about two million positions in 2019 to approximately 2.3 million in 2025.

Data center operators can rise to the challenge in a few key ways.

Step 1: Broaden your talent pool

One glaring staffing challenge? Some data centers try to adhere to conventional job requirements in an anything-but-conventional sector.

Many people who have spent their careers in data centers got there by accident. That’s because 20 years ago, these jobs didn’t exist in the way they do today. Now it’s become an established and often rewarding profession—yet the rest of the world hasn’t quite caught up.

Colleges and trade schools that offer data center education are still too rare. And seasoned technical talent is hard to find, let alone keep around.

Data center leaders can sidestep these issues by adjusting hiring qualifications. For starters, consider candidates who have proven technical skills in another field. Open doors to candidates with different educational backgrounds, like electrical, mechanical or engineering programs. Give promising new recruits the training and education they'll need to succeed.

Also, explore opportunities related to your location. Are there local job fairs where you could reach more diverse candidates? Could you reach more qualified candidates by branching out into different markets?

Step 2: Become an employer of choice

Technical talent can afford to be choosy in where they work. Create the work experience your target employees want in the following ways:

  • Offer training, education and apprenticeship programs at every step
  • Leverage technology to ensure training is interesting, dynamic and efficient
  • Show talent you’re committed to their success by providing pathways to professional advancement, including clear ways forward for people with different backgrounds or just out of school
  • Give teams the flexibility they want, with the sense of shared team purpose they’ll come to prize
  • Prioritize diversity to create an inviting work environment for people of all genders, races and ethnic backgrounds
Attracting tomorrow’s data center stars to your team, today

The talent wars are raging on across the data center landscape. By expanding the playing field to welcome and develop non-traditional candidates—and showing you value their long-term contribution—you can grow and keep a deep bench of expert technical talent.

Add to that an optimized, high-functioning facility environment, and you’ll have what it takes to outpace the data center competition now, and into the future.