Tackling the UK Skills Shortage

Digital disruption, the fourth industrial revolution, whatever you call it, businesses, customers and markets around the globe are all feeling the impact of rapid evolution and innovation in the digital space. Naturally this having a significant impact on technology – which we’ll discuss in more detail next month – but, there’s also a more human consideration, in the form of a growing digital skills shortage.  The industry needs to tackle this head on to combat the decline in new STEM specialists.

Service boom, skill decline

With the boom in digital services we are seeing an unprecedented increase in the amount of data uploaded, stored and accessed online. Cisco predicts that by 2020 internet traffic will reach 2.3 Zettabytes (ZB) per year or 193 Exabyes (EB) – equivalent to 193 billion gigabytes – per month.

This carries with it an ever-increasing need for data centres. As a result, we have seen the accelerated development of new server technology and supporting infrastructure, as businesses and data centre operators strive to create more capacity within their existing data centre footprint. With new technology, and the associated demands for development, refurbishment and long-term maintenance of the UK data centre estate, the issue of skill is now more inextricably linked to performance than ever.

Recently we’ve seen Microsoft moving towards micro data centres and large manufacturers like Schneider responding with their “Smart Bunker” solution.  For the teams here this is our bread and butter and our consultants and engineers continually train to stay on top of the latest market developments.

However, attracting, training and retaining skills is an issue the sector has traditionally struggled with. Gartner estimates that in Europe alone, the skills deficit will lead to a shortage of 90,000 IT professionals by 2020. Engineering UK’s 2016 report claimed that this shortage in the technical and engineering field will be even higher – the UK will need to find 182,000 people with engineering skills every year to 2022 to simply meet requirements.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills attributes the wider shortage to a reduced number of students studying IT and technology subjects. Within the critical environments sector, we find that this is compounded by a lack of awareness of the data centre sector as a career route – even among those who have chosen engineering subjects.

Future-proofing the industry

So what can we do as an industry to try and combat the current skills shortage and drive awareness for the future?

At Keysource we understand the importance of investing not only in our consultants and engineers but all of our team members. We offer company sponsored training and fully-subsidised education as a benefit to make our teams specialists in their field. In the last year alone we’ve subsidised employees’ undergraduate and post-graduate degrees, provided over 200 hours of professional training, and mentored six staff as they reached Chartered status in their fields.

We have recently begun the roll out of a new Apprenticeship Scheme, which aims to support young people through a combination of workplace experience and training, as well as classroom sessions to drive the next generation of engineers and technical workers. As part of our wider aim of attracting talent to the sector, Keysource will also be implementing a new Critical Environment Graduate Scheme and will be attending a number of graduate and higher education careers fairs thought out the year in order to try and drive awareness of the critical environments sector.

Up-skilling our engineers enables us to add value to our customers by reducing the number of technicians needed on site to carry out works. It also makes Keysource a great place to work. We invest in our team’s training and long-term professional development.

We recognise that customer service is as much about our people as it is SLAs. Investing to attract and retain the best talent in the industry is not just about future-proofing our business, it’s about ensuring best value for customers and supporting the wider development of the industry.

Keysource shortlisted at this year’s DCS Awards

We are proud to announce Keysource has been shortlisted as a finalist in two categories at this year’s Data Centre Solutions (DCS) Awards.

Our data centre managed services project with the Metropolitan Police Service, which picked up a top award at last year’s DatacentreDynamics Awards, has been shortlisted for Data Centre Management Project of the Year.  This project sees Keysource working as a key pillar in the MPS SIAM framework, helping the MPS deliver technology transformation against their 20:20 objectives.

Keysource is also really proud to have been shortlisted for the new Excellence in Service award. This award recognises companies that have gone above and beyond, not only for their customers but also in shaping the industry.  Launched last year Keysource’s consultancy and professional services offering has challenged traditional approaches to IT asset strategy and through engaging much earlier with our customers we’ve delivered highly diverse and innovative strategies that meet long term customer requirements.

The awards assessment panel thoroughly reviewed all entries for the awards before selecting the finalists, who now face a public vote. Voting opened on 27th March and will close on 27th  April and votes can be cast at www.dcsawards.com/voting.php.

The awards are backed by Datacentre Solutions magazine, the official journal of the Data Centre Alliance. The DCS Awards will be announced at an evening event at the Grange St Paul’s Hotel in London on the 18th May.

Jon Healy, Associate Director, Keysource commented:

It’s great to have been chosen as finalist for our project with the Metropolitan Police Service, and that the company has been recognised for its customer approach through our new consultancy offering.  We hope to succeed in May following a success in previous DCS Awards. We hope lots of people will visit the website and vote!

Keysource takes delivery of our new fleet

2016 was a great year for Keysource’s Facilities Management division, with the team securing major contracts with the Metropolitan Police Service and Leeds City Council, as well as large contract renewals for our customers across Europe.

Operating over 200 facilities across Europe our specialist critical FM offering is growing quickly.  In order to support this growth, and as we continue to invest in the delivery of these essential services, Keysource is has now started to take delivery of a new fleet of vehicles.

Able to deliver hard and soft facilities management services for both critical and non-critical environments across Europe to strict SLA’s, call us now to find out more about our FM solutions.

Vehicles

A look back on 2016

2016 has been a very big year for Keysource. We have started working with some amazing new clients, won some top awards and become part of Styles&Wood Group Plc!

We kicked off the year by extending our higher education portfolio, once again proving that our knowledge of the University sector can deliver real benefits. March was a bumper month for us as we secured contracts with the Metropolitan Police and Southport & Ormskirk Hospital. We were also accepted as a member of the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Certification Service, which enabled us to provide more opportunities and qualifications for our staff.

In April, we were extremely pleased to have been chosen by Chayora to design nearly 1.8million sq ft of white space for a nationwide network of data centres throughout China. We also won a RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Award for a third year in a row, this time receiving a Gold award.

Julia Small, RoSPA’s Head of Awards and Events, said: “To win an award at such a highly-regarded event as the RoSPA Awards is a great achievement for Keysource. It recognises their commitment to maintaining an excellent health and safety record and raises the bar for other organisations to aspire to.”

To support our continuing growth, we opened new offices in the centre of London in May. We were also chosen by a leading pharmaceutical company to design and build a new critical data centre in the midlands, as well as securing the Data Centre Solutions New Design/Build Data Centre Project of the Year for our work with Jaguar Land Rover. Meanwhile, we won a key contract providing facilities management for Leeds City Council in July.

As we moved into Autumn we entered our Fundraising Month. Over the course of September, the Keysource team took part in the formidable Nuts Challenge, the Dragon Boat Race, the London to Brighton Bike Ride and hosted a Macmillan coffee morning. As a result, we raised an incredible £4000 for a variety of charities. Autumn also saw the start of a new chapter for Keysource after the Limited company was acquired by Styles&Wood Group Plc as part of their diversification strategy.

The year has ended as it began, with an exciting mix of contract and award wins. We added Staffordshire University, the University of Bristol and the University of Exeter to our growing University portfolio.

Howard Whiteley, Interim Director of Digital Transformation at the Staffordshire University said: “Keysource has provided us with excellent advice throughout the past six years, as we update our IT strategy we are confident that Keysource will continue this, supporting us to implement a best-in-class solution for the University.”

We also won our third award of the year, picking up the award for Public Services Digital Delivery at the Datacentre Dynamics EMEA Awards 2016 for our work on the Metropolitan Police’s data centre estate. One of our engineers; Tom Blundy, was also a finalist in the Young Mission Critical Engineer of the Year category.

Mark McLeod, Director of Service Delivery for the Metropolitan Police said: “This award recognises Keysource’s effectiveness and skills in supporting the Metropolitan Police Service’s IT transformation.”

As we draw towards the end of 2016 we would like to thank all our staff for their hard work, and to our clients and suppliers for helping us to make this a brilliant year. We look forward to a prosperous 2017!

Why one size doesn’t need to fit all

Organisations today have many more options when it comes to storing and managing their data and supporting their IT infrastructure. Laurence Baker looks at how organisations can ensure they have a future-ready solution and discusses the rise of the modular solution and the benefits it can bring.

Ten years ago there was no real outsourcing model in our sector and organisations had to build and run their own data centres. So they invested heavily and built huge facilities in anticipation of strong, predicted growth. In many cases the facilities were big, with highly resilient Tier IV infrastructures, as they believed what they needed was 100% availability and, above all, absolute protection against any data loss. Then the economic downturn happened.

In some cases these decisions were made without properly considering their requirements. As a result many have ended up with, at best, facilities that have been both expensive to construct and continue to be operationally complex and expensive to run.

At Keysource we find that our customers rarely deploy a full IT load from day one, if ever, so this raises the question about whether the infrastructure to support this needs to be in place in day one. To determine this we believe that early engagement is key to ensure you are making the right decisions.  Not having all the relevant stakeholders involved from the outset may mean that the team fails to understand the real business and IT requirements or that the wrong solution is specified and deployed.

This is increasingly important as businesses today are becoming ever more dependent on IT systems and associated data due to a number of changes such as an upsurge in ‘Cloud’ services, digitalisation and the internet of things. As a result a key priority is ensuring the availability of these systems, with companies looking for the best solution to meet their requirements, as efficiently as possible. For many the biggest challenge is how to keep aligning the IT infrastructure to the fast moving and ever changing business environment and ensuring that any solution is future ready, whilst also keeping costs to a minimum.

As a result, many organisations are opting for modular data centre solutions which are constantly evolving to address a wider range of business and operational requirements. Traditionally modular solutions were developed to overcome construction and deployment challenges, but now there is an overwhelming demand for these scalable facilities that also deliver high levels of performance, resilience and efficiency…

Read the full article on page 20 of Data Centre News Magazine

Find out more about our modular data centre solutions

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