Brexit and the Datacenter. Towards a unified response to capability shortfalls.

— 14 July 2016

Posted by DCP Guest Blogger

Dr Theresa (Terri) Simpkin 
CIPD, CAHRI, Churchill Fellow, FHEA
Head of Department, Leadership and Management
Lord Ashcroft International Business School


While the recent UK referendum may well have delivered a ‘surprise’ (insert your descriptor of choice here) result, the consequent fallout in regard to uncertainty of access to capable people is no great revelation. Clearly, the future of rights to work in the UK for EU citizens (and by default perhaps, other foreign nationals), is up for revision as the move away from the EU is clarified and negotiated.

The UK, in particular, was already facing a crisis of ‘skills’ across a number of sectors and the broader tech sector is no different. By definition, the Data Centre sector, already in the grip of a shifting profile of skills need with shortages in a number of key occupations, will find itself competing more vehemently with other sectors for talent required to navigate the immediate and longer term future.

It stands to reason that a more consolidated and coordinated approach be taken to assess the situation from all perspectives. From developing informed training demand profiles for schools, colleges and higher education to better developing in house responses to talent development, a more focused approach is sorely needed.

Interventions to broaden out the potential labour pool is one of the smartest sectoral strategies to initiate. The serious development of cohesive inclusion initiatives to attract and retain women, for example is long overdue, but now imperative. However, a piecemeal and ad hoc approach is wasteful and time consuming. It misses opportunities for scalable better practice activities and induces patches of the sector to squabbling over limited but highly valuable human capabilities.

Brexit offers an unprecedented opportunity for the sector to get its house in order as a mature albeit somewhat fragmented collective; it may not have a palatable choice other than to get smart about how it attracts, develops, rewards and promotes its people.

Current research into DC management suggests that, unsurprisingly, the skills profile of leaders and managers is changing as the sector shifts with technology advances and more intricate business imperatives. There is also evidence to suggest that on the whole, the way in which people are managed inside the datacenter business is not as effective or efficient as it could be. Recruitment, retention, talent management and succession planning are mostly uncoordinated and initiatives are largely borne out of other industries from another time with a different suite of challenges.

So, given there is little good news on the predicted shortfall in skills in STEM occupations across the board, uncertainty of supply provides a compelling impetus for a more cohesive and unified, global approach to ‘end to end’ Data Centre capability development.

To add your voice to the current research being conducted through Anglia Ruskin University on this topic, click here  to take a quick survey.