We surveyed 200 IT managers and recruiters about the current state of the cloud skills gap. See what skills IT teams need most and how they are managing the shortage of skilled talent in this report.
- Cloud security, network management and storage are cloud skills most needed by organizations to support digital transformation in 2022.
- Ninety-five percent of respondents say their organizations will need to upskill, reskill and hire new cloud IT professionals to keep cloud projects moving forward.
- Cybersecurity and product innovation and development are most negatively impacted by the skills gap.
The pandemic has been the single biggest driver of cloud adoption organizations have ever seen. The rapid adoption of cloud has fueled great demand for skilled talent, exacerbating a cloud skills shortage that was already a pre-pandemic challenge.
In turn, many organizations are now motivated to invest in migrating their workloads to cloud infrastructure, modernizing their applications, and building and deploying containerized applications. But it’s more challenging than ever to find people who have the right skills to usher in transformation. IT and engineering leaders and technical recruiters are feeling the effects, but also finding ways to manage the situation to keep their organizations’ cloud transformation initiatives moving forward.
To find out how organizations are weathering and navigating the cloud talent shortage as the world emerges from the pandemic, Cloud Institute surveyed 200 senior-level IT and Engineering leaders and IT technical recruiters in the United States and Europe.
Here’s what we found.
Majority Consider Their Organizations Highly Cloud-Competent
Most IT and engineering managers and IT recruiters surveyed believed their organizations were very competent with cloud skills. Fifty-six percent rated their company as very competent, 32 percent as moderately competent, and 11 percent as slightly competent. Only 1 percent rated their company as not cloud competent at all.
This is surprising, as there is a steady flow of research finding digital transformation success is rare, with as many as 70 percent of companies failing at their digital transformation initiatives.
Respondents’ Rating of Organizations’ Cloud Competency
Google Cloud, AWS and Azure Skills Most Needed
As expected, businesses need talent skilled at managing infrastructure and building and deploying applications on the most popular cloud platforms.
Usually, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is positioned at the top of the list by a large margin in other surveys ranking the popularity of cloud providers. In this survey, which asked which cloud platform was most important for their business to have cloud skills to support, 23 percent of respondents reported a higher demand for Google Cloud skills, compared to 21 percent for AWS. Microsoft Azure cloud skills was rated third for platform skills needed at 20 percent.
To a lesser extent, respondents also have a healthy demand for skills for other cloud platforms: IBM Cloud (16 percent), Salesforce Cloud (14 percent) and Alibaba Cloud (9 percent).
Two percent of respondents said their organizations had other cloud platform skills needs and wrote in responses for SharePoint, iCloud and Greenlake.
Cloud Platforms Where Skills Most Needed
Cloud Security Most In-Demand IT Skill
The cloud security market is undergoing significant growth due to the rising demand for cloud-based services and growing number of cloud-based deployments.
In fact, the global security market is expected to grow from $8.33 billion in 2020 to $36 billion by 2028 at a 20.25 percent CAGR according to Fior Markets. So, seeing cloud security selected as the most in-demand cloud skill needed in 2022 by 16 percent of survey respondents is not surprising.
Other trends in cloud computing are reflected in survey results. As organizations adopt more agile ways of working and adapt to a distributed workforce, the need for people with skills to manage networks in cloud and hosted environments is increasing. Thus, 12 percent of respondents rated network management, 10 percent rated multicloud orchestration, and 9 percent rated DevOps as top cloud skills their organizations need to support digital transformation.
Most Important Cloud Skills in 2022
Furthermore, global data creation is growing exponentially. According to IDC analyst Eric Burgener, an average of 71 petabytes of file storage is going to on-premises locations every year, while over 91 petabytes is being sent to public clouds. The rate of cloud storage growth is forecast to be 53 percent per year. Cloud Institute’s survey results show 12 percent of respondents need people with cloud storage skills, which aligns to the overall growth of storage needs globally.
Cloud skills that are very important, but to a lesser extent, include cloud native development (8 percent), AI and machine learning (7 percent), data science (6 percent), automation (6 percent) and containers and microservices (5%).
To effectively support emerging technologies, organizations need to get cloud security, network management, storage, multicloud orchestration and DevOps practices right. Since most organizations are struggling to succeed with digital transformation, it makes sense that there is less demand for emerging technology skills in these findings. As organizations learn to successfully transform, the need for these specialized skills is expected to increase.
Most Open Cloud Roles Filled In 1-2 Months
Fifty-one percent of survey respondents said open cloud IT roles are filled on average in one to two months. At first, we found this surprising, expecting that with such a tight talent pool, more companies would need two, three or more months to recruit new cloud professionals.
However, IT recruiters who have been in the industry since the 2010s said this is correct. Because there is a shortage of talent with the right skills, recruiters and the organizations they serve have become more open to hiring outside universities.
Thanks to a proliferation of free and low cost cloud training and bootcamps, anyone with the desire and grit to become a cloud developer, solutions architect, cloud engineer or other cloud professional can do so. At the same time, companies and recruiters now have broadened their search for talent beyond colleges and universities to pursue self-taught candidates. Many companies, including Google, Meta, Apple and IBM have dropped degree requirements for many IT roles.
Time Needed to Fill Open Cloud Jobs
95% of Organizations Experiencing Cloud Skills Shortage
The vast majority of survey respondents (95 percent) say their organizations are impacted by the cloud skills shortage at some level. Only 5 percent felt it wasn’t causing a negative impact at all.
Fifteen percent of survey respondents say they are experiencing a very large cloud skills gap. They need to invest in transitioning the majority of their workforce to support digital transformation. To transition the workforce, they are having to not only recruit new skilled workers, but also invest heavily in upskilling and reskilling most of their existing workforce.
The majority of companies, 45 percent, are contending with a moderately large cloud skills gap, which means they need to upskill and reskill some areas of their workforce and hire a few new cloud professionals to keep cloud initiatives moving forward.
Figuring out how to manage a slightly large cloud skills are 35 percent of the organizations represented in the survey. In these cases, organizations are continuing to invest in upskilling and reskilling their current cloud teams as needed to meet their requirements, but they don’t have to rely on recruiting new candidates to fill gaps.
Finally, 5 percent of survey respondents are luckily experiencing no large skills gap in their organizations. Everything that needs to get done is manageable without hiring or skilling up their current team.
Size of Organization’s Cloud Skills Gap
Cybersecurity and Innovation Hindered by Skills Shortage
Of the 95 percent of respondents whose organizations are figuring out how to manage the cloud skills gap, there are negative impacts across every part of the business.
Cybersecurity is the top impact area according to 19 percent of respondents. This makes sense given the significant need for cloud security as more companies adopt cloud infrastructure and move workloads to multiple clouds—and it’s also the cloud skill that is in the shortest supply.
One of the core promises of cloud is that it empowers organizations to be more agile and resilient, innovate and deliver products and services faster. But in our survey, 18 percent of respondents said innovation and new product development is currently hindered and 15 percent say their speed to market has decreased due to a lack of people with skills their organizations need.
Furthermore, staff productivity is reduced for 16 percent of respondent’s organizations, profitability is impacted for 10 percent, and IT services have even been disrupted for 6 percent of respondents’ organizations. For those dealing with very large cloud skills gaps, the advantages cloud can bring are not being realized, and in some cases, parts of the business are at a disadvantage.
Indeed, Gartner’s “2021-2023 Emerging Technology Roadmap” finds IT executives view the talent shortage as the largest barrier to deploying emerging technology, primarily cloud-based technologies such as machine learning, analytics and advanced storage.
Areas of Business Negatively Impacted by Cloud Skills Gap
Lack of Cloud Skills Development Is Top Reason for Shortage
Respondents were asked what they thought was contributing to the cloud skills shortage. Twenty-one percent name the lack of adequate cloud skills development as a top contributor. With regard to training, 11 percent of respondents say the cloud training that is available simply doesn’t translate to workforce performance, which means the time spent on learning was wasted and the investment in employees had little to no return.
Fortunately, challenges involving training can be overcome. There is an abundance of cloud training and coaching services to choose from today, from affordable self-paced training course libraries employees can access and complete on their own schedule, to bootcamps that dive deep into cloud technologies and processes. Some companies even offer cloud coaches who can provide highly-personalized on-the-job training to help leaders and teams succeed with transformation.
Nineteen percent of survey respondents say technology changes too quickly, which makes it difficult for cloud professionals to keep their skills current. And 12 percent say it’s too difficult to conduct on-the-job training. For 11 percent, the pay for IT roles at their company is too low to attract qualified candidates.
Others perceive more systemic factors as contributors to the shortage. Nine percent of respondents say there isn’t enough STEM education to prepare a larger workforce of IT and cloud professionals for the roles organizations need to fill, while 6 percent say IT in general doesn’t attract enough of the best workers.
Top Reasons for Cloud Skills Shortage
A Third of Organizations Combine New Hiring and Upskilling to Fill Skills Gaps
There are three main ways any organization can navigate the cloud skills shortage: Hire more people with the skills they need, train current employees on new cloud technologies, or outsource to partners or agencies who have the people with the skills needed for the job. Roughly a third of organizations survey respondents represent rely on a combination of these methods.
Recruiting new hires with the skills they need for general cloud management is the preferred method for 37 percent of respondents. When looking for people with AI and machine learning skillset, recruiting new talent is all more common with 30 percent of respondents relying on this method.
In the cases of cloud security, database management, DevOps and data science, respondents upskilling their current IT staff is their organizations’ preferred method to manage the skills shortage.
Overall, few organizations are relying on partners or agencies to bring the skills they need to their business. DevOps, data science and cloud security are the most outsourced skill sets at 15 percent, 13 percent and 12 percent respectively. Keep in mind, partners and agencies are also affected by the cloud skills shortage and competing for the same talent as the organizations they serve.
Methods for Filling Cloud Skills Gaps
Hands-On Practice, Instructor-Led Training Most Effective Upskilling Methods
Survey respondents ranked instructor-led training and practice labs and exercises as the most effective methods to upskill and reskill employees.
Eighty-five percent say instructor-led training, which can be delivered online or in-person, to be very effective and only 14 percent say this training method is only slightly effective or not effective at all.
The next most effective training method is practice labs and exercises. This method provides a way for employees to practice and apply skills in either real or simulated cloud environments. Eighty-three percent of survey respondents say this method is very effective, while 16 percent say it has limited or no efficacy in helping employees learn new skills.
Rounding out the most effective methods to support employee cloud training is offering dedicated time during working hours to learn new skills (82 percent) and Cloud and IT coaching (80 percent).
Moving on, the other cloud training methods we collected feedback on in the survey, while still largely effective, are much less effective than the instructor-led training and practice labs and exercises. Self-paced online courses are the most common training delivery model. This training typically includes audio and video that learners can follow along to at their own pace. Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents say this is a very effective method of training, and 16 percent say it has little to no efficacy.
The remaining methods — industry conferences and workshops, books and training guides, and bootcamps — are least effective according to survey respondents. Surprisingly, respondents said books and training guides are more effective than bootcamps, 69 percent compared to 65 percent, and an equal number, 29 percent, say both of these methods are slightly effective or not effective at all.
At first, it’s surprising that bootcamps are the least effective cloud training method because the bootcamp business is growing and many cloud professionals can credit completing a bootcamp to launch their careers. But the context of the survey question was most effective training methods to reskill or upskill current employees. Since a typical bootcamp requires a large time commitment over several months, it’s then understandable that this is not effective for organizations needing to train people who are already on the job. In this case, it’s much for time effective to align training to the specific skills current employees need — which is likely a smaller list than what a bootcamp delivers — and deliver an instructor, practice labs, coaching and dedicated learning time.
Most Effective Cloud Training Methods
The overall efficacy of these cloud training methods aligns closely to the average learning retention rates reflected in diagram 1.Diagram 1
At the top of the pyramid, the learning activity is passive — listening to someone lecture, reading text, and watching videos. With these methods, new knowledge retention is low, only up to 20% for audiovisual methods, which is a common delivery model for training companies that specialize in self-paced online cloud training.
At the bottom of the pyramid, learning is more interactive. Here, the average retention rate of new skills is as high as 75% when the learner has an opportunity to apply new skills by practicing them.
Like the pyramid, our survey respondents ranked more interactive training methods — practice labs, coaching, instructor-led training — as most effective, and passive training methods — self-paced courses, books, and bootcamps (which are often delivered in self-paced online courses) as least effective.
Cloud Certifications are Table Stakes for Job Candidates
For job candidates, obtaining a cloud certification is critical to validate skills for employers. The majority of survey respondents, 57 percent, say having a cloud certification is very important. Furthermore, 37 percent say certifications are moderately important. Only a combined 6 percent of respondents say certifications are only slightly important or not important at all.
To broaden the talent pool, companies and recruiters have opened their minds to self-taught cloud professionals. You no longer have to obtain a computer science degree from a college or university for a foot in the door, even at companies like Meta and Apple.
But you still have to prove you have the skills. Earning credentials by passing certification exams — which can be quite rigorous and are not easy to pass — is table stakes to show employers you have what it takes to deliver.
In some organizations, having a certain number of employees who have specific certifications is required to maintain contracts. Globally-recognized credentials — such as AWS Solutions Architect, Azure Administrator, and Kubernetes Administrator — are no longer nice-to-haves, but a box that must be ticked for consideration by a prospective employer.
Importance of Cloud Certifications for Hiring Managers and Recruiters
Nearly every organization is feeling the impact of the cloud skills shortage. The gap in current employees’ skills and a limited talent pool for new hires has interfered with organizations’ ability to usher in successful digital transformations and fully leverage the benefits that cloud promises — primarily more agility, innovation, speed to market and profitability.
The shortage won’t resolve soon, but there are tools at a company’s disposal to help them weather, even thrive, in this situation. With a large enough budget, you can recruit the best talent. If that’s not an option, personalizing training and providing opportunities to practice new skills can move your current team forward and ensure more skills transfer from the classroom to the workplace.
For job candidates, there’s never been a better time to start a career as a cloud professional or earn a promotion if you are already in the field. For IT managers, now is the time to invest in training and coaching for your teams to keep them ahead of the curve as cloud technology and business needs evolved. You need only the willingness to learn, the right training and practice and certifications to validate your skills for prospective employers.
To find the data in this report, we conducted a survey consisting of 25 questions, and gathered 200 unique responses from random IT and Engineering hiring managers and executives and IT recruiters in the United States and Europe.
In the matrixed questions, respondents had the option to select “N/A.” The percentage of respondents who answered “N/A” was very small. That data was not included in the charts in this report.