How to upskill your workforce for the cloud

The cloud has become a standard tool for modern businesses looking to boost the efficiency, security and accessibility of their data and workflows. But as firms get more ambitious in their use of cloud solutions, skills gaps are becoming increasingly apparent

Open your favourite search engine and run a search for ‘digital skills gap’. Chances are, you’ll see countless surveys, opinions, news analyses and all manner of other coverage dedicated to the digital skills gap – that is to say, the inability of organisations to attract and retain employees with the right skills to use emerging technology to help their employers achieve their business goals. 

The reason for so much coverage is that the digital skills gap is a problem affecting organisations across all industries, using all types of business technologies, both in the private and public sectors. This is one of the business world’s most talked-about problems. 

And it’s not just nascent tech, like AI or blockchain, that presents skills gaps. Take, for example, the cloud: perhaps one of the more significant business solutions of the digital era to date, and by now arguably too well-established to be considered an ‘emerging’ technology. But although the vast majority of organisations have moved at least some of their workloads to the cloud, more than a quarter are still finding it difficult to recruit and train all the people they require to keep their cloud workloads functional and secure. 

Now, many employers have decided to address their skills gaps from within, relying on development programmes to upskill their existing workforce. And when it comes to cloud skills, research suggests that most employers are planning even more training interventions in the short term, despite ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty.

Unsurprisingly, business leaders anticipate the largest digital skills gaps to be in the area of AI and machine learning; IT technicians are also in high demand. 

But the third biggest anticipated gap is cloud computing, where more than one in five business leaders still expect a shortage of cloud-related skills by 2025. And although some cloud-specific skills shortages reflect a need for highly technical candidates, many leaders are still grappling with ensuring basic cloud literacy and data security among the wider workforce. 

Despite the current economic lull, most businesses have decided that learning and development spending around cloud computing is too important to cut. Only 3% plan to decrease spending on cloud skills development, while nearly three-quarters (74%) are planning on upping cloud learning in 2023. 

So, what do organisations look for when choosing a cloud skills development partner? The first consideration is technical accuracy, followed by cost-effectiveness, the availability of customised solutions, and measurability. The skills programme can be fun, too – but that only matters to about a third of businesses.

As security is the primary cloud concern among business leaders, it’s not surprising that security is the measure by which the success of a skills development programme is typically gauged. Firms also pay close attention to cost optimisation and product- or service-related KPIs, such as innovation and speed to market.

And what’s in it for employees? Forty-six percent expect a cloud skills development programme to result in a raise or some form of career advancement, but just as many wanted to complete a skills programme for personal fulfillment.