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IT Pros Lack Time, Support to Learn Vital Cloud Computing Skills

Because of the dearth of IT talent, upskilling is the key to closing the cloud skills gap, a new report finds.

Organizations are battling a cloud computing skills literacy gap as they look to further their investments in cloud-based technologies, according to a Pluralsight survey of 1,000 technologists and tech leaders in the United States, Europe, Australia, and India.

Cloud security, networking, and data were the top areas where skills gaps persist among technologists, with survey respondents citing budget and time constraints among the chief headwinds preventing them from upskilling.

Despite these sometimes limited upskilling resources, technologists are still finding ways to engage with cloud learning. Sixty-eight percent of technologists dedicate time at least once per week to technology upskilling.

Related: 5 Top Skills for Cloud Computing

In addition, the report found that nearly a third (32%) of respondents say employers emphasize hiring rather than upskilling, a tactic that could shift as the number of qualified IT professionals looking for employment stays low.

Upskilling Is Crucial to Keeping IT Talent

The study also indicated upskilling could be a promising method to retain IT talent, with employees 94% more likely to stay with a company that invests in their skill development.

Of those looking to boost their cloud computing skills, 71% of respondents said they prefer daily or weekly learning opportunities, and 64% said they prefer to learn by doing with hands-on tools such as labs and sandboxes.

The report noted building cloud computing skills is not a short-term proposition but requires a dedicated training path, with the median time period to progress stretching three to six months longer than learning other technologies.

"Learning cloud is, on balance, more complex than the upskilling courses technologists are used to," the report said. "When leadership expectations are at levels beyond the capabilities of their employees, skills gaps form."

Related: Cloud Migration: A Recurring, Never-Ending Process

The most concerning statistic from the survey for both tech leaders and technologists was that only 8% of technologists report having significant cloud-related skills, according to Drew Firment, head cloud strategist at Pluralsight.

"When we compare that to the 75% of business leaders who say they are building all-new products and features in the cloud moving forward, that figure becomes even more concerning," he said.

This means that while a vast majority of organizations are making more significant investments into cloud strategy and maturity, they are still not providing their technologists with the time and resources they need to up-level themselves in cloud technologies.

Firment said that because cloud talent is so difficult to find, it's crucial to build a pipeline of cloud talent from within your organization.

"Investing in resources such as online cloud skills development training is a great way to get your IT workforce up to speed and continuously learning within the cloud," he noted. "Allowing technologists to get their hands dirty with tools such as cloud sandbox environments and hands-on learning resources will ensure that their skills translate from theory to practice."

Cloud Computing Skills Training: Start with the Fundamentals

Cloud learning must start with basic cloud fundamentals, meaning understanding the principles of cloud computing and how they can be applied to the specific organization, Firment said.

In fact, the study showed that nearly two-thirds (64%) of technologists are still at the beginning stage of their cloud learning and are looking to achieve basic cloud literacy.

Once that baseline is achieved, Firment said technologists should begin diving into specific cloud computing skills, such as cloud security, database management, networking, architecture, and machine learning.

"Additionally, cloud certifications can help beginner cloud practitioners validate their cloud knowledge and begin contributing results for their organizations," he said.

Firment pointed out that the demand for skilled cloud professionals is not likely to decrease in the coming months, which means organizations that want to realize their cloud transformation goals must view upskilling technologists in the cloud as a core business strategy.

"The ability to create agile technology teams that are able to keep pace with the ever changing world of cloud will be a key differentiator in an organization's success within the next year," Firment said.

About the author

Nathan Eddy headshotNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.
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