It’s International Data Center Day, which makes it the perfect time to celebrate all the Equinix data center Operations workers across the globe who demonstrate their commitment to ensuring all systems are up and running 24/7, whatever the circumstances. Before and during the dark days of the pandemic, working from home was not an option for them. Instead, they showed up on-site day-after-day in each of our IBX® data centers to manage, maintain and update our customers’ equipment, and enabled those who wanted to enter data centers to do so safely. We sincerely thank you for your unwavering dedication to keeping the lights on and businesses running worldwide.
This is an exciting and opportunistic time to launch a career in data center operations. Imagine how the world would have functioned during the pandemic without data center-enabled services such as Zoom, and private connections as the backbone for deploying IT infrastructure at software speed. Data center workers are at the heart of how we all get things done on a personal level, and they play a fundamental role in helping businesses thrive in a changing market landscape. It’s because of the people who work in data centers that enterprises can connect with cloud and network service providers, XaaS companies, partners and other organizations to manage systems, run workloads and store data – at the core and at the edge.
In addition, as the demand for increasingly sophisticated digital infrastructure continues to grow, so do the skills required to design, build and operate data centers. As a result, new roles will be created in step with emerging technologies and evolving trends in the industry.
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Demand is outpacing talent acquisition and training of digitally skilled workers
Data center worker demand will only continue to increase over the next ten years. A recent Uptime Institute® survey suggests that half of the world’s existing engineering staff will retire by 2025, yet the number of staff needed to run the world’s data centers will grow from around two million to nearly 2.3 million by 2025. This talent shortage is being felt industrywide: by Equinix, our customers, cloud service providers and partners, and industry peers. A gap in skilled data center operations workers could slow the progress of digital transformation and the development of digital services that millions rely on to manage nearly every aspect of their lives.
During the pandemic, workers from many industries left the workforce in droves to care for children as daycare options evaporated. The pandemic also accelerated the number of workers who chose to retire early, which is in addition to the projected number of data center workers who will retire between now and 2025.
Another significant source of worker shortage is the constant churn that’s occurring because of intense competition for workers. Companies in the industry are essentially competing for the same limited pool of data center workers.
As if that wasn’t enough, the data center industry has a branding challenge. It is not well-known in general, let alone for its career potential. University degrees are nearly non-existent, and only recently have two-year community colleges begun to offer degrees or certifications linked to data center operations. In particular, the industry has failed to do enough to include women in its recruiting efforts: in another Uptime Institute survey, more than three-quarters of respondents said that women currently make up 10% or less of their data center workforce.
Exploring opportunities in data center operations at Equinix
With all these opportunities in the data center industry, you might be wondering, why Equinix? As the leader in the industry, we have more than 200 IBX data centers worldwide, with many opportunities for mobility across management and technical career tracks. Whether you have transferable skills or are just entering the job market, there’s always a path for those with the right aptitude, attitude and potential.
At Equinix, we’re bringing together the next generation of data center professionals working to expand the world’s digital infrastructure. In the near term, we need to increase headcount by hundreds across the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific to address the increased demand for professionals in the design, build and operate aspects of our data center operations.
Building data center career awareness, attracting talent and training for digital skills
Equinix is actively developing new approaches to find and train the best talent to fuel our future growth, with diversification as a key strategy of our Talent Acquisition team. We are developing nontraditional talent pipelines to fill data center hiring needs through the Equinix Pathways to Tech recruiting program, designed to bring employment opportunities to underrepresented talent communities, including people with disabilities, women of color, members of the military and their spouses, and more.
The Equinix Career Transition Program is focused on hiring and training talent from adjacent industries, such as manufacturing, maritime, oil and gas, or telecom. Taking this approach allows us to find amazing people with backgrounds such as mechanical, electrical and civil engineering, construction and networking, who are looking to make a pivot in their careers. Soft skills such as handling pressure, problem-solving, communications, and critical thinking are also transferable and highly desirable in data center operations.
We’re bringing together the next generation of data center professionals working to expand the world’s digital infrastructure at Equinix."
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The Equinix Career Transition Program offers individuals the opportunity to transition into a fast-growing industry while expanding their knowledge and applying their digital skills in data center operations. It is also instrumental in diversifying our workforce by bringing more women into this traditionally male field.
The military is also a key pipeline for Equinix, as we provide opportunities for service members and their spouses to gain valuable work experience through internships and full-time roles. In the U.S., we partner with the Department of Defense SkillBridge program, a government-funded opportunity for service members transitioning into civilian life to gain industry training that prepares them for new careers.
Globally, Equinix has an extensive number of apprenticeships, internships and trainee programs that help students and recent graduates build their skillsets in our industry. These pre-career programs provide students with the opportunity to train and develop their skills in preparation for getting hired following graduation. We also have established numerous mentoring and shadowing programs to introduce career opportunities in the data center industry to high school and university students.
In 2021, we launched the Equinix Digital Infrastructure Scholarship in partnership with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) for students who plan to enter the growing data center industry through NOVA’s Engineering Technology Career Studies Certificate Programs. Equinix will support five NOVA students with scholarships of $5,000 each. Eligible candidates can also register for available mentorships and paid internship opportunities at Equinix.
As we welcome a more diverse profile of workers, a tipping point will occur. Networking among those already in the data center workforce will be instrumental in continuing to attract a more diverse pool of talent. By connecting with diverse and nontraditional talent pathways, we are on the way to meeting our data center hiring needs at Equinix.
Celebrating current talent and excellent career opportunities
Finally, here’s another shout-out to data center workers around the world as we’re reminded that the data center industry is one of the most exciting to work in and will continue to be as it evolves over the next decade. Happy International Data Center Day!
You may also be interested in reading:
 Uptime Institute, Global Data Center Staffing Forecast – Uptime Institute, Lead Author Rhonda Ascierto, Vice President of Research, Uptime Institute, published January 1, 2021, last updated April 5, 2021.
 Uptime Institute, Uptime Institute Global Data Center Survey 2021 – Growth stretches an evolving sector, multiple authors, September 1, 2021.
 Louden Virginia Economic Development News, Equinix Digital Infrastructure Scholarship Program Launches at NOVA – Loudoun County Economic Development, VA, Amber Styles, March 24, 2021.