Updated: Dec 16, 2021
Live Event Replay: On Thursday, 21 October, Host in Ireland’s hosted a live event, “Untapped Potential - The Data Centre Career Opportunity” webinar.
The two biggest trends upon us as a society are digitalisation and decarbonisation. The place where they intersect and come to life is none other than the data centre. Data is at the heart of everything we do and shows no signs of slowing down.
By 2025, the Uptime Institute is predicting a net global staff growth of 300,000 data centre jobs. How do companies harness the untapped potential offered by a career creating the digital world we live in? Ensuring candidates understand these exciting roles and opportunities is quickly becoming one of the greatest challenges facing the industry here in Ireland, and for Irish companies abroad.
Our panelists gave insight on the data centre career opportunity, from employers attracting and developing talent to employees and graduates looking for new career paths.
Where Megatrends Meet - Garry Connolly
The chief economists in the United Nations jointly identified climate change and technological revolution as two of the five “megatrends” that will shape our world over the course of this century. The socioeconomic challenges of the last two years have become a springboard for digitalisation and changed our expectations of how we interact with technology. Running in parallel, the decarbonisation of our societies, including the electrical grid, is an increasingly urgent issue. Agriculture, transport, home heating, and energy all bear responsibility for Ireland’s carbon emissions (See Figure 1). This needs to be a collective priority as we strive to meet our Climate Action goals by 2030.
The place where digitalisation and decarbonisation intersect is none other than the data centre. Ireland as a country has a seven decade relationship with data. Our pedigree working with the world’s largest financial, pharma, life sciences, social and e-commerce companies is something we should be deeply proud of. Ireland in 2021 is a far cry from the emigration ravaged, economically depressed state of the 1960’s when we started embracing data and the greater FDI opportunity. We not only achieved the title of world’s largest software exporter in 2000, but today data contributes to more than €136 billion in ICT and related service exports.
At the same time, we have an aging electrical infrastructure that is due for a major overhaul in order to transition to a smart grid that is fit for purpose for a modern society. There are challenges associated with connecting renewable electricity to the grid, international interconnect delays and unforeseen delays on turbine maintenance, as well as energy auction delays, all of which must be addressed.
However, we have a unique opportunity ahead of us. Ireland has the potential to be a world leader in decarbonising data centres. With a potential long- term generating capacity of 70GW of renewable energy, we have 10-15 times greater capacity than we could ever consume ourselves. We should leverage our experience as a centre of excellence for all things green data. This will require large scale cooperation between science, technology and a change in human behaviour. Most importantly it will also define our ability to create, attract and retain the talent needed to be part of this change.
That brings us to this special edition of Host in Ireland’s Biannual Report on Talent. Attracting, retaining and developing talent is one of the biggest challenges that will be facing a post-covid data centre industry in the next five years. In our 2021 Business Sentiment Survey, we asked companies in the data centre ecosystem in Ireland for their business outlook for the next 12 months. What we learned is that 82% of the companies surveyed expect their employee base to grow in Ireland over the coming year and 92% feel very positive or positive about their business prospects.
To better understand the talent challenges facing the industry, we’ve invited four guest contributors to offer their perspectives to this report. Dermot Reidy from Enterprise Ireland offers his insight on how Ireland has evolved through similar transitions in the past. Hannah Ormondroyd from CBRE shares current data centre industry hiring trends. Greg Hayden from Ethos Engineering talks about the impact culture has had on his company’s hiring practices. Finally, Mark Flanagan from Kirby Group Engineering offers his insight on why this is such an exciting time to be a part of the industry and how they are helping the next generation of engineers embrace it.
When all is said and done, it’s time once again for the data centre industry to be brave, creative and relentless to meet these challenges. As our dependence on data grows, so too does our need for green data centres and the people who make the magic happen. The “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset is not going to help attract, retain and develop the talent for an industry where some of the jobs may not have even been created yet. The more investment, training and creative approaches to employment we implement today, the more we will reap the benefits and define the success of the industry in years to come. Now, let’s stop talking and go find solutions!
Founder - Host In Ireland