In total, the Dutch data center industry creates 4.000 additional jobs from now until 2024.
The Dutch data center industry is a growing source of employment, according to research conducted by the Dutch Data Center Association in collaboration with colocation provider Interxion and security company Workrate. The 12,500 jobs that the sector is currently creating is estimated to grow towards 16,300 in the next five years. The actual realization of this growth however, strongly depends on the availability of sufficient technically qualified personnel. The research concludes that finding qualified personnel appears to be the biggest challenge for the data center industry.
Everything that happens online has to be stored in a data center. As the society is increasingly driven towards online, the data center sector also continues to grow bigger. Data centers with multiple locations, so called multi-tenant data centers expect to have 56% more employees in five years time. Data centers owned by large cloud companies such as Google and Microsoft also continue to grow heavily. Resulting in enormous employment opportunities for starters and professionals. Technical and IT forces in particular are heading towards an exciting future. In 2017, the economic impact of the sector already amounted to more than 1 billion euros. This appeared in earlier research by the DDA. The sector is currently creating 12,500 direct jobs, which in 2024 will have grown towards roughly 16,500 jobs.
The rapid growth of the sector unfortunately also comes with a downside: the difficulty to find personnel. Around 500 vacancies are currently unfulfilled, of which half are engineering positions. The biggest challenge for the next five years is finding sufficient qualified staff. The research shows that demand for starters at MBO4 education level is the highest. However, the demand for higher educated professionals is also growing due to the increasing complexity of data center projects.
According to the data center sector, the main reason for the shortage of qualified technical personnel is that the content of the Dutch education system does not sufficiently align with the content of the job. For example, data center engineers are responsible for tasks such as management and implementation of facility systems. However, there are currently no study programs in the Netherlands that provide this.
Eline Stuivenwold, Education and Employment policy manager at the DDA says: “The data center sector offers opportunities for educational institutions to improve the connection with the work field. Both to prepare the youth of today for the digitally driven labor market in the future, as well as the opportunity to work more closely with the work field. As a trade association, we will continue to improve the gap between education and data centers. The first initiatives are already being received positively by the involved parties.”
It is important to clarify that the sector itself also plays an important role in solving the staff shortage. As Stijn Grove, Managing Director of the DDA says: “Data centers are highly secured buildings and can therefore have a rather mysterious image. Meaning there is certainly still much to be gained in terms of the image of a data center as an attractive employer.”
High growth potential for female employees
The research indicates that data centers want to recruit more widely. Women currently fill 7.1% of the staff in data centers and are therefore heavily under represented. Melissa Scholten, marketing executive at Interxion, says: “Being one of the few data center women I highly support a wider reputation for data centers as employers. The sector can benefit enormously if more girls choose a more technical study course. However, at this moment there are only a few girls that are familiar with the industry and perhaps have the wrong image of what the industry entails. We have found that whenever girls are being introduced to the sector they are often pleasantly surprised of how versatile it is.”
The diversity of the work field even affects data center security guards. The research shows they are required to do more than only keeping unwanted elements out. 45% of the data centers ask the security guards to also function as a host which makes customer service and social skills important requirements for data center security officers.
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