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A survey of 610 IT business leaders in North America and Europe conducted by IDC on behalf of Cloudreach, an arm of Atos that focuses on cloud services and Amazon Web Services (AWS), finds 70 percent of respondents view their current cloud skills gap to be an urgent concern.

More than half of respondents (55 percent) think this skills crisis was slowing them down, with 34 percent reporting the shortage has reduced their ability to operate and launch services. Slightly less than a tenth (9 percent) went as far to say it poses an existential crisis to their company.

A major opportunity for MSPs

Multi-cloud capabilities, cloud system development, and cloud governance are the top three areas most impacted by the skills gap, according to respondents.

Naturally, this skills shortage creates a major opportunity for managed service providers (MSPs). The challenge is MSPs, alongside IT leaders, cloud service providers, software-as-a-service (SaaS) application providers, and providers of as-a-service platforms are now competing for the same talent.

At the same time, a Great Resignation phenomenon that took hold as the COVID-19 pandemic started to recede, is making it challenging to retain the IT talent organizations have in place.

Demand for managed services will evolve

Cloud service providers, of course, have a vested interest in helping to close this skills gap. AWS has made a commitment to provide cloud training to more than 29 million people around the world by 2025. Most MSPs are likely to be conflicted about those efforts. They would like to see the pool of candidates they can hire increase because in the absence of that talent, the number of customers they can effectively service is limited. However, if the skills gap is effectively closed over the next three years, demand for their services might decline. In the meantime, MSPs should be able to command a premium for their cloud services expertise.

Longer term, demand for managed services will continue to evolve. Nearly half of respondents said their organization is now engaged in business transformation initiatives that are being driven via cloud applications. The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that by 2025 half of the global workforce will need some level of reskilling, while at the same time 97 million new roles will emerge as processes become more digitized.

MSPS should invest in the skills they will need tomorrow, today

Obviously, some job roles will also disappear as existing manual processes become more automated. Overall, the demand for advanced skills is likely to outstrip the available supply well through the decade, despite increased reliance on artificial intelligence (AI). For the most part, AI technologies are augmenting humans in ways that makes them more efficient than it does to replace them.

The challenge MSPs will face in the years ahead is finding ways to continuously reinvent themselves. As more services become automated, demand for other classes of services will emerge. Savvy MSPs are using the profits they generate today to help fund strategic investments in skills that will be needed tomorrow. If they wait until there is demand for those services, odds are more than good they won’t be able acquire the next generation of skills needed to remain relevant into the back half of the decade.

Photo: Galina Chet / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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