Despite boom, Data Centre industry faces talent shortages in SEA
Published 23 February 2021
Data centre is a fast-growing industry with state-of-the-art technology applications, especially after the data challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The internet-related service usage during the lockdown has made it possible for the rising demand of data centres worldwide. According to a recent report from ResearchandMarkets.com, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, data centre has become a booming market across the globe with an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 2 per cent during the period 2019-2025.
In another report, South East Asia is witnessing an even more promising outlook with an estimated CAGR of over 6 per cent during the same period.
However, one of the after effects of this boom is a shortage of talent for operating data centres with essentially high-tech skill sets.
“Data centre industry is very exciting with a lot of new technologies, but it’s also quite a heavy industry,” said Edward van Leent, Chairman and CEO of UK-based energy consultancy EPI Group, at W.Media’s Digital Week in South East Asia 2021. “Because there’s a lot of turnovers, I think some of the shortage is created in the industry.”
Leent added that the jobs in data centers cause staff a lot of stresses with complaints about errors every day or even during the holiday. People tend to leave jobs after a few years and move into other industries.
“But what I get from practice is that you can get people, but to get the right skill sets, it becomes a problem,” he said. In developing countries, the lack of high-quality experts on data centres is a looming challenge.
For example, Vietnam, placed 15th in Asia in terms of digital quality of life as per a global report in 2020. It is now home to about 27 cloud computing data centres, invested in by 11 domestic firms with more than 270,000 servers.
Though the number is expected to increase by more than 60 per cent in the next three years, the staffing of highly skilled engineers who are able to operate those centres at an international standard is still under question.
“All over Vietnam, only three people have the CDCE (Certified Data Center Expert) certificates,” stated Binh Vu, general secretary and CEO of Vietnam Internet Association.
The choice of bringing overseas experts to consult local operations is critical, but as the pandemic is still threatening, in-person collaborations are impossible in every part of the world. Remote monitoring and remote management, therefore, become more prominent in the data centre industry.
“I think there’s a big shift in the whole market, where remote working becomes more acceptable,” said Leent. “The need for many of the people on-site moves towards a different balance that we have now.”
Employing people from overseas will come in hand with legal issues, for example, tax regulations. Still, he believed that the industry would be less dependent on local factors for the coming period.