Solving the Cloud Skills Shortage Through DEI

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Read more about author Poonam Flammarion.

The U.S. labor shortage has stubbornly persisted, with tech being one of the most affected industries. This is not necessarily due simply to the lack of candidates but to the lack of highly skilled candidates. As demand for cloud services grows, finding certified cloud-native engineers to support this demand continues to be challenging for some of the largest cloud services providers. The tech industry continues to adjust to ever-changing software and application updates and innovations, with 90% of IT leaders agreeing that cloud adoption is essential to keep up. However, 70% are concerned about the continuing cloud skills gap. Although many companies are loosening job requirements to fill positions, the industry still requires a solid foundation for employees to succeed.

This leaves companies desperate for skilled professionals and stranded with a talent pool that doesn’t match the demand. Companies will only solve this issue once they begin looking outside the typical, traditional sources of employees in the field. Diversifying your hiring pipeline by diversifying the talent pool to include more women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community is essential to alleviating the cloud talent crisis, and there are a variety of strategies organizations can implement to address the cloud skills gap while creating an inclusive work environment. 

Provide underrepresented candidates with the training they need to succeed in a cloud career. 

Oftentimes, these candidates are not even getting calls back; in fact, men were the only candidates interviewed in nearly 40% of open tech roles in 2021. Every new employee requires training, no matter their background or experience in the field. Reframing the hiring process to include a training period specific to these underrepresented employees will provide them with the support they need to thrive in the technology industry. For candidates of diverse backgrounds who have yet to develop the hard skills generally required for hiring, training programs can bring them up to speed in a way that is specific to your business. Companies that are willing to consider diverse candidates with zero prior experience will be rewarded with motivated workers tailored to their needs. One study shows that diverse groups of employees make better decisions twice as fast as more homogenous teams. 

Address issues of economic inequity in tech by compensating trainees from day one.

Women, people of color, and members of the LBGTQ+ community continue to be underpaid as well as underrepresented in the tech industry, and that results in unhappiness and burnout. Ensuring compensation is equal across each level will result in wins for your business, as companies with gender diversity on their executive teams are 15% more likely to achieve above-average profitability than their less diverse counterparts. Providing payment from the start of training will lead to further motivation and productivity for these employees. For example, an HR consulting firm launched an initiative to improve economic outcomes for at-risk women, including child-care and professional clothing. At the end of the program, 95% secured long-term job opportunities. Companies willing to go the extra mile to support these underrepresented candidates not only improve the lives of the individuals in the program but also ensure that the companies that hire them are receiving candidates that will excel at work and improve output.

Open the door to people who cannot afford tuition fees or weeks unpaid in cloud skills boot camps.

Expecting potential employees to go through unpaid training is an issue in itself, but even to get to that point many employers require specific degrees or certifications to get in the door. This expectation puts candidates of lower means at an extreme disadvantage and completely neglects a large population of capable employees. More tech companies are opening the door to these forgotten groups by offering programs that pay them for their time while setting them up for jobs upon completion. These programs are open to all types of candidates, regardless of background or experience. 

Companies willing to take a few extra steps to not only include but support underrepresented candidates will fill roles that have been left open in the stubborn employment market. Further, diversifying company ranks by removing barriers to entry results in better decision-making, greater ROI, lower turnover, and happier employees.