Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, cloud computing was poised for massive growth. As businesses moved away from the costly practice of buying, owning and maintaining physical data centers and servers, providers offering computing services over the internet happily stepped in with more cost effective and scalable solutions. 

However, when the pandemic sent employers rushing to adopt remote and hybrid working models, the demand for cloud solutions exploded. Now, organizations rely on the cloud for everything from data backup to virtual desktops and consumer-facing web applications. 

The question employers face today is, “Will we be able to hire the right skills needed to expand and maintain our cloud capabilities?” 

The Growing Investment in Cloud

When it comes to projecting the future of cloud specialties in technology, the proof is in the numbers. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), investment in public and private cloud solutions increased 34.4 percent in 2020, while traditional, non-cloud IT infrastructure declined by 8.7 percent over the same period. Certainly, some of this increased spend can be traced back to the rapid adoption of work from home opportunities. Tech leaders are now being asked to develop strategies to ensure secure, seamless experiences for a growing number of employees and consumers. Results of a recent survey of CIOs uncovered that dollars are being shifted to data analytics to drive better decision-making, security and a cloud-centric operating model.

While the shift to remote and hybrid workforces does serve as a catalyst for this shift, a recent report from Gartner cites cloud ubiquity, regional cloud ecosystems, sustainability and CIPS automated infrastructure as contributing factors to this increased investment. While public cloud services – such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud – may be the most common type of cloud computing deployment, businesses are increasingly adopting multi-cloud systems, often employing a blend of public, private and hybrid systems. If IT leaders expect to be able to rely on these increasingly complex infrastructures, then they’ll need skilled talent in order to implement, maintain and optimize such systems. As one tech leader put it, “You still have to use the right tool for the right job, and since these tools are increasingly cloud technologies and typically from more than one cloud platform or provider, you’re looking for cloud integrators to tie it all together.”

Employment Outlook and the Skills Gap

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent by 2030. This is faster than the average for all other occupations. The heightened demand stems from a greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data and information security. 

Unfortunately, a skills gap that existed in tech long before the world reacted to COVID-19 has only widened since 2020. Technology skills were already desperately needed to keep project roadmaps on track in application development, IT infrastructure, data & business intelligence and, of course, cloud solutions. Recent disruptions have only exasperated the problem. 

In fact, when asked what the top barrier to successful cloud deployments has been, eight in ten cloud leaders say lack of internals skills and knowledge ranks as number one. Employers are racing to fill gaps on their team, with cloud job postings on Indeed raising 42 percent since March 2018. Additionally, between the start of 2019 and 2021, mention of the key phrase “cloud skills” grew 40.5 percent, with cloud engineer, cloud architect and senior cloud engineer leading the search for in-demand job titles. 

What’s Next for Empoyers?

The Great Resignation has tilted the scales in favor of job seekers, empowering skilled talent to demand more from would-be employers across all sectors. In short, these workers are well aware of how needed their expertise is for organizations racing to keep pace with digital transformation trends. Employers will need to offer competitive compensation, flexible work options and thoughtful benefit packages in order to build the skilled workforce needed.

The pace of digital transformation and the race for skilled talent is only speeding up. Will employers be able to meet the moment? The answer is cloudy. 

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