4 reasons to invest in entry-level cloud talent
At Amazon, we are “customer obsessed,” which means we work to understand the challenges our customers face and figure out how to solve them. For AWS, this often means building technical solutions for our customers, such as helping Siemens handle cyber threats, or supporting Netflix with nearly all of its computing and storage needs.
But it also means helping customers solve another persistent challenge: IT talent shortages.
The cloud skills gap
According to Global Knowledge, nearly 80% of IT decision-makers say their teams lack the skills they need. And this challenge is particularly acute when it comes to cloud computing. In fact, a report from 451 Research indicates that cloud skills gaps have nearly doubled in the past three years, with 90% of organizations reporting shortages.
These statistics come as no surprise to business leaders around the world who are struggling to find talented developers, architects, and business leaders to help them make the most of the cloud. There are simply not enough highly-experienced applicants to meet the demand.
How does an industry suddenly create a large number of highly-qualified cloud professionals with 15-plus years of experience? It doesn’t. Instead, businesses need to rethink who they hire and how they train and retain them. Rather than chasing and competing for a limited number of highly-experienced professionals, employers should surround their most experienced employees with highly motivated, entry-level talent with strong foundational cloud skills.
AWS has invested in programs like AWS Academy and AWS re/Start dedicated to populating the global IT ecosystem with entry-level cloud talent—individuals who have already received hands-on training created by AWS experts. These individuals are eager to start their cloud careers in towns and cities around the world. Here are four reasons why you should hire them.
1. Entry-level talent is often “cloud-native,” principled, and ready to learn.
Today’s entry-level cloud talent won’t come with a decade of on-the-job experience, but they won’t come on board with a decade’s worth of legacy thinking either. Rather than needing to unlearn old habits and ways of working on now-defunct technologies, these individuals can help your company challenge outdated approaches and embrace change in the digital age.
Some of the individuals starting their cloud careers are also digital natives. They may think differently about data and devices, and bring a different level of thinking to notions about technology and what it can do.
2. Get the best out of your employees.
How can you get the best out of your most valuable employees? Give them a team to train, mentor, and work with.
Building teams comprised of individuals with various levels of experience will help ensure that they are complementing and learning from one another. Those new to the cloud will be able to grow their skills in a supportive environment, with mentorship from someone you trust who has ample experience.
By surrounding your experienced cloud talent with skilled, entry-level talent, you’ll also free them up to take on the more high-value aspects of their projects. Their team can do some of the building, and they can focus on more complex tasks, strategy, and design. You may even find that giving your tenured employees tasks more closely aligned to their abilities might help them stick around longer. In a 2020 survey by Deloitte, respondents who said their companies use their skills effectively are more likely to say they plan to stay with their current employer.
But remember, in order to get the best out of both your entry-level and most experienced employees, you’ll also need to make sure you are supporting their development. According to Global Knowledge, only 59% of IT decision-makers approved training in 2019. “The absence of training support is puzzling,” the report explains, “considering a lack of training investment is a leading cause of skills gaps.” Make sure you give your team the support and resources they need—so that your company can keep the skills it needs.
3. Investing in entry-level talent will save you time, money, and resources.
Skills gaps are more than just an inconvenience; the financial and business repercussions can be grave. According to Global Knowledge, 45% of IT decision-makers state the rate of technological change is outpacing skills development and 30% of them say they haven’t anticipated the skills they need. By hiring entry-level talent, you can bridge your IT skills gap, helping your company achieve its business objectives and meet demands on time.
“It’s become more important to hire and grow junior individuals because it’s difficult to hire really experienced people at small-company money. So we like to grow our talent,” Jon Topper, CEO of Scale Factory in London, UK told us. His company, which has hired a graduate from our AWS re/Start program, focuses on hiring individuals with strong foundational cloud skills and an interest in developing their careers in the cloud. Rather than hiring for hard-to-find technical skills alone, they hire with an eye toward base knowledge, technical aptitude, potential, and enthusiasm.
Research suggests that investing in your employees can help with your company’s retention rates. According to a 2018 LinkedIn Learning report, 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.
4. Your team of diverse talent will be smarter and more stable.
Having a mix of talent and experience across your organization can also help create stability. If you have one or two highly experienced individuals, what happens when one of them leaves? You can help ensure business continuity and financial stability by building strong, supported, and resilient teams—teams that don’t depend on a small number of irreplaceable employees.
Hiring individuals with a range of skills, backgrounds, and experience will also have a positive impact on business decision-making and innovation. Research shows that diverse teams are smarter and more innovative.
Turning scarcity into opportunity
The scarcity of highly experienced cloud talent is a major concern for many businesses. But this scarcity is also an invitation to hire, train, and retain talent differently.
Companies large and small can tackle the current skills shortage by building and investing in diverse, resilient teams with a mix of experience levels. Rather than searching for hard-to-find—and difficult to keep—tenured individuals alone, companies should also invest in entry-level talent with strong foundational cloud skills.
Around the world, individuals are emerging from universities, training programs, and internships with hands-on experience in the cloud and an eagerness to launch their careers. Some of them will even hold industry-recognized certifications. And they are key to bridging the skills gap and helping your business thrive.
Kevin Kelly is Director of Education Programs at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and leads development of AWS Academy and AWS re/Start, which help to prepare diverse learners to pursue in-demand cloud roles, working with higher education institutions, non-profits, and government organizations.