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Overcoming the cloud skills gap: Two strategies for acquiring essential talent

By Matthew Leppanen, Director of Marketing and Enablement, Bell Business Markets

A Bell certified expert assists with various aspects of the cloud, such as identifying and resolving vulnerabilities across public cloud services.

Matthew Leppanen, Director of Marketing and Enablement at Bell Business Markets knows the ins and outs of transforming and maximizing the value of your cloud investments.The cloud is at the centre of today’s digital economy, with global spending on public cloud services projected to reach almost $600 billion in 2023. However, businesses need to go beyond the basics to truly innovate in the cloud, which requires advanced expertise and certifications. Without them, dedicating more dollars to cloud technology can only get you so far. 

This is the reality facing so many businesses across Canada: today’s labour market simply cannot meet the demand for advanced cloud skills. While it’s just one of many tech skill areas that are experiencing labour shortages, cloud skills have become so integral to an organization’s digital transformation journey that those without them risk falling behind. In a recent survey of Canadian IT leaders, 41% named cloud computing specialists as their most in-demand employees, ahead of other critical roles like AI/machine learning specialists (27%) and security architects (25%).  

But why is there such a short supply? It really comes down to demand. According to Gartner, 91% of businesses are currently pursuing digital initiatives of some kind, with 87% of senior leaders citing digitalization as a priority. That has created a growing demand for people with skills in the cloud and other technical areas: global demand for cloud talent is forecasted to increase by 50% by 2026

Adding to the challenge is the rise of remote work. Companies can now search far and wide for the talent they need, sparking competition globally for the same small pool of cloud specialists. Additionally, the uncertain economic climate is putting pressure on organizations to stretch their existing resources further. This means even if the right candidate is out there, many businesses will find it hard to compete with hyperscalers and other megafirms that are also hungry for cloud talent. 

It's frustrating when the candidates you need to take full advantage of the cloud just aren’t out there. Fortunately, there are other ways to digitally transform and maximize the value of your cloud investments. Fostering talent internally or accessing it through a trusted partner are both viable options that can drive success.  

Solution 1: Cultivating cloud talent from within 

Hiring cloud talent from outside the organization should never be overlooked. New and talented graduates enter the market each year and there are always seasoned specialists looking for new opportunities. However, a powerful complement to hiring is helping existing staff develop needed skills through reskilling and upskilling. 

Reskilling involves equipping an employee in one role with the knowledge and capabilities to move into another, which can be closely related to, or completely different from, their current position. Upskilling is when an employee develops new skills related to their role that enable them to take on new tasks or perform at a higher level.  

It’s a strategy that businesses of all sizes use to help meet talent needs, including here at Bell and among our cloud partners like Amazon Web Services (AWS).   

“One of my favourite leadership principles is ‘learn and be curious’. We encourage our customers and partners to invest in their people to upskill and reskill to close their talent gaps, so AWS does the same. We want to give our people the room and encouragement to keep learning and grow their skills.”

Myra Pelowski, Director of the Americas Partner Training at AWS 

At Bell, reskilling and upskilling are vital parts of a broader strategy for acquiring the cloud skills needed to support our own operations and enterprise customers. In addition to running summer internships, graduate leadership programs, and other hiring initiatives, we maintain a vibrant training and learning culture for existing team members.  

“While we’re always on the lookout for new candidates with priority skills, there’s so much value in also fostering those skills in current staff, who are already very familiar with Bell. Sometimes you find the best talent in the market by developing it yourself.”

Reno Vaillancourt, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Labour Relations at Bell

We’ve adopted this approach at Bell through the introduction of innovative programs like the Bell AWS Training Club, which offers our employees free access to an on-demand digital training platform with hundreds of courses to help them earn AWS certifications. 

Solution 2: Working with an expert partner 

While reskilling and upskilling are beneficial, this approach does demand time and resources. This is especially true when it comes to achieving the innovation goals most businesses have in mind when they embark on their cloud journeys. From my experience, many enterprises are not able to rely on reskilling or upskilling alone to meet their talent needs. 

The good news is organizations can still access the advanced competencies they need by working with a trusted partner. With this approach, essential skills and certifications can be put to use quickly without needing to dedicate the time and resources it takes to develop them internally. Instead, organizations benefit from the partners’ investments in hiring, training, and learning. By augmenting their internal teams with external support in this way, companies can quickly meet their talent needs today. 

We are seeing great success with this approach. We’ve been partnering with businesses of all sizes across Canada - augmenting their teams with our own expertise to drive business innovation.  It’s a need we can fill thanks to our size and national presence, as well as our commitment to investing in our people. 

“We are always looking at the talent needs facing Canadian businesses and considering how we can help close those gaps. From technical training to flexible learning platforms to fun-filled ‘game days’, internal development will continue to be integral to how we support our customers.”

Molly Zito, Bell’s Senior Manager of Partner Success, Cloud (AWS)

To truly innovate in the cloud, it’s clear that advanced expertise and certifications are required, yet they are in short supply.  It’s a gap that businesses of every size and industry are dealing with. Fortunately, there are solutions out there that can help bridge this gap. Cultivating talent from within and working with expert partners can make a difference.  We are seeing the results, you can too. 

Your cloud technology partner

Looking to accelerate your cloud journey? Bell has the skills that could help your business – and is adding to them every day through innovative training programs like the AWS Training Club. 

Our certified experts can assist with various aspects of the cloud, from initial migration and implementation to identifying and resolving vulnerabilities across your public cloud services. By augmenting your in-house capabilities with our portfolio of professional and managed services, you can optimize the benefits of cloud technology without taking focus away from your core business objectives. 

To learn more, explore our cloud professional services and cloud managed services pages.