Plugging the skills gap to build a cloud-ready workforce

Necip Ozyucel, cloud & enterprise business solutions lead, Microsoft Gulf writes on the shortage of skilled job candidates to fill the growing number of cloud jobs, hindering the region’s ability to capitalise on the benefits of cloud

Tags: Cloud computingMicrosoft GulfUnited Arab Emirates
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Plugging the skills gap to build a cloud-ready workforce Cloud technology is already playing a significant role in Middle East by contributing to national development, noted Ozyucel.
By  Necip Ozyucel Published  July 18, 2017

Cloud is the new normal. Almost 80 percent of businesses are deploying cloud technology globally, and the International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that cloud spending will exceed $500 billion by 2020.

Cloud technology is already playing a significant role in Middle East by contributing to national development, amplifying socio-economic growth, fostering innovation and improving service delivery.

However, there is a large shortage of skilled job candidates to fill the growing number of cloud jobs, hindering the region’s ability to fully capitalise on the benefits cloud technology offers.

In a new initiative, Microsoft is launching the Microsoft Cloud Society across the Middle East and Africa. The programme offers people working in the technology sector training, certification opportunities and face-to-face opportunities to meet with Microsoft cloud experts.

More cloud jobs than ever, but not enough skills to fill them

According to the Bayt.com Middle East Skills Gap Survey from May 2016, it is challenging for employers across the MENA region to find candidates with the required skills. This difficulty is accentuated when recruiting for senior positions, with seven in 10 respondents (70%) claiming they find it difficult to find candidates with the required skills. The situation seems to be slightly easier when recruiting for junior positions, although 49% of the employers surveyed still rate the hiring process as ‘difficult’.

The job market is tough these days with only 2 in every 10 companies surveyed searching for new employees. However, even with low demand, employers are having difficulty to find candidates with the required skills. The difficulty is accentuated with senior positions, with 39% of respondents claiming they find it ‘very difficult’ to find senior candidates with the required skills.

An IDC report showed that emerging networking technology skills, such as those required for cloud computing, mobility and virtualisation, accounted for 46.3 percent of the total networking skills gap in 2016.

A direct link between cloud skills and development

There has been rapid uptake of cloud solutions, with more than 60% of Enterprise IT organisations building hybrid clouds and purchase new or updated workload-centric cloud management solutions.

IDC predicts cloud IT infrastructure spending will grow at CAGR of 15.1% from 2014 to 2019, reaching $53.1B billion by 2019. By 2019, IDC predicts cloud IT infrastructure spending will be 46% of total expenditures on enterprise IT infrastructure.

As cloud adoption continues to increase, we also expect to see true democratisation of artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, IoT and block chain technology, all of which help foster innovation and growth.

Looking at the SME sector, the biggest obstacles for growth are lack of access to markets and finance. Using cloud services can provide easy and cost-effective ways of gathering data for small enterprises, with a view to supporting start-ups and SMEs through better business development services and access to finance, as well as boosting SME growth through strengthening business systems.

Having a cloud-savvy workforce is crucial to the bottom line of the company, and the development of the continent.

Closing the cloud skills and capabilities gap

To rectify this, it’s vital that we empower citizens with the skills needed to unlock demand and help drive more adoption and growth of the cloud.

It’s for this reason that Microsoft, through its Cloud Society, has made its Azure Skills training programme available to the Middle East and Africa. The aim is for IT workers at any level, from those accustomed to working with technologies on premises, to communities of Open Source professionals, to be cloud-ready.

The trainings and certifications run as a blend of scheduled and on-demand online courses, covering generalised and niche, cloud-focused subject areas for getting up to speed with the cloud.

A win-win for employees, businesses and the continent

There’s no doubt that skilled cloud professionals are highly sought after in today’s mobile-first, cloud-first world.  This certification gives potential cloud specialists the opportunity for career advancement, higher salaries and more interesting work.

Simultaneously, SMEs that employ these skilled professionals can fully embrace the cloud, giving them greater ability to decrease time-to-market for new ideas and projects.

The Middle Eastern region is poised to compete at a global level when it comes to cloud technologies. If we can equip ourselves with skilled IT workers to help us navigate this relatively unfamiliar territory, we will be equally well-positioned to grow our businesses and develop our economies to more effectively to compete on a global scale.

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