"Despite modest growth in the IT sector overall in the U.S., cloud-ready jobs are increasing as we head into 2013," said Cushing Anderson, a program VP at IDC, in a statement. "With this increase comes the harsh reality that workforces around the world are steps behind when it comes to attaining the skills necessary to thrive in the cloud computing industry."
The study's authors contend that cloud computing will drive demand for individuals with a hard-to-find mix of business and IT skills, given that many of the new jobs will involve architecture, design, advisory, and transitional services as opposed to just hands-on tech functions.
"Unlike IT skill shortages in the past, solving this skills gap is extremely challenging, given that cloud brings a new set of skills, which haven't been needed in the past," said Anderson. "There is no one-size-fits-all set of criteria for jobs in cloud computing. Therefore, training and certification is essential for preparing prospective jobs candidates to work in cloud-related jobs."
The study found that worldwide, almost two-thirds of businesses plan to implement, or are already using, cloud technologies in their operations, with the U.S. accounting for 62% of spending on public cloud infrastructure. It also found that lack of training, certification, and experience are the top three reasons cloud positions are not being filled.
[ Does the U.S. need to import more foreign tech help? New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks so. Read NYC Mayor: U.S. Needs More Foreign Tech Talent. ]
To address the problem, Microsoft recently announced that it has revamped many of its certifications to take into account cloud computing technologies and methods, including forthcoming certifications for Windows 8 specialists. Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 are designed to work in concert with Microsoft cloud services such as Azure and Office 365.
The study is bound to create some controversy. Microsoft has long claimed that there are worker shortages in a number of key IT areas, and has been pushing the U.S. government to increase the number of H-1B visas available to foreign tech workers. Currently, the number is capped at 65,000, with an additional 20,000 available to foreign graduates of advanced STEM programs at U.S. colleges and universities.
Redmond also wants Congress to pass legislation that would make it easier for U.S. companies to procure permanent resident status (or green cards) for foreign tech hires. Under one plan floated by Microsoft, private businesses could pay up to $15,000 to procure green card approval for a foreign hire.
Critics of such proposals, including The Programmers Guild, argue that U.S. tech companies should focus on retraining older IT pros, many of whom have been laid off in recent years, in cloud and other new skills before hiring foreigners.
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