• Atlantean Media

STEMming the tide of skills shortages

Updated: Mar 15, 2019

Environmental engineering industries, particularly data centres, are facing a STEM (science, technology, engineering & maths) skills shortages epidemic. What can be done about it?

STEM skills shortages are costing businesses an estimated £1.5 billion per year

What do you want to be when you’re older? It’s a question many of us were asked during our early years at school. An astronaut, footballer, rockstar were and continue to be career choices for the young generations, seeking out fame and fortune. More recently, famous vloggers and social media sensations have no doubt made the sacred list.

Yet how about data centres? How many of the professionals working in data centres today set out on that career path from the start?

It’s an interesting question and one that Peter Hannaford, founder of specialist recruitment

company Datacenter People often asks the audience when speaking at conferences. He believes the general unawareness of the industry and its significance doesn’t help the challenge.

“Data centres are not a topic that are taught in schools and it’s not often something that is a career choice,” he says. “Around 90 percent of the population haven’t got a clue where data is stored. They know about the cloud but they don’t have an idea that the data resides in a building somewhere.”

His company recently had to recruit a team of 20 people for a data centre in the Netherlands. Over half the candidates came from the oil and gas sectors.

“There are transferable skills from other industries,” he adds. “Electrical and mechanical engineers, nuclear engineers and submariners – these make for great data centre technicians because they really understand what mission critical is.”

Wake up call

So how big is the problem? According to recent data from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Learning, skills shortages cost related businesses £1.5 billion per year. To put that number into perspective, there is currently an estimated shortfall of 173,000 skilled workers annually across STEM industries, including data centre and IT engineering.

Furthermore, data from STEM Learning predicts that new roles could double over the next 10 years.

The organisation spoke to HR directors at 400 STEM businesses in the UK. Overall, feedback revealed that recruitment is taking longer than expected, they are having to spend more on temporary staff, hiring at a lower level and training staff up, or even inflating salaries to attract talent...

(This article was written for Future-tech and the full version appears on the company's website here: