Uptime Institute recently released it Global Data Center Staffing Forecast 2021-2025, the digital infrastructure industry's first comprehensive forecast of workforce needs. The report is segmented by region, by data center type, and by staff minimum education requirements.
As the data center build-out continues across the globe, many more people will be needed to design, build and operate this critical infrastructure. The availability (or lack) of specialist staff will be an increasing concern for all types of data centers, from mega-growth hyperscales to small, private enterprise facilities. Greater investment, more training and more creative approaches to employment will be needed.
Although data center recruitment needs are expected to rise steadily to 2025, the growth in demand does not need to represent a crisis. Individual employers can take steps to address the issue, and the sector can act together to raise the profile of opportunities and to improve recruitment and training.
The main findings of the report:
• Global data center staff requirements are forecast to grow globally from about 2.0 million full-time employee equivalents in 2019 to nearly 2.3 million in 2025. This estimate covers more than 230 specialist job roles for different types and sizes of data centers, with varying criticality requirements, from design through operation.
• The bulk of staff will be needed for ongoing data center operations, with a smaller proportion required for the design and build of new or retrofitted facilities.
• New staff will be needed across all geographic regions. Most demand will be in the Asia Pacific region (, driven by expected cloud and colo data center capacity growth in China, parts of Southeast Asia, Australia and elsewhere), followed by North America and the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions.
• In the large and mature data center markets of the US and Western Europe, there is concern that many employees are due to retire around the same time, causing an additional surge in demand, particularly for senior roles.
• Globally, demand growth will come from cloud and colocation data centers. Cloud data centers — those either owned or leased by major public cloud/internet companies — will require the most staff, by a significant margin. Enterprise data centers will continue to employ a large number of staff, but the number will decline, eventually being surpassed by cloud after 2025.
• Most of the workforce will require a university/college or technical trade school degree or — critically — equivalent experience. More on-the-job training and sector-specific education will be key for the sector to meet future talent demand. The industry is expanding and professionalizing, with a concentration of fewer, larger employers. This is helping to create more modern attitudes about education requirements. These larger employers are also investing more in training
• Technical staff are notoriously difficult to recruit in 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. These roles all require an engineering degree from a university or college, at a minimum. Many data center engineers must obtain additional certifications, although it varies by region.
• Innovations in artificial intelligence and automation are unlikely to flatten or reduce staff needs before 2025. The research shows that most data center operators and managers plan to increase their investment in remote and automation technologies, including those that involve AI. However, the impact on staffing needs is likely to be muted, at least in the short term.
The report is available HERE.
Source: Uptime Institute