IT firm Rahi and Infrastructure Masons said at least 50pc of scholarships will be awarded to women to address gender imbalance in the sector.
A new scholarship programme has been launched at IT Sligo to help plug skills gaps in Ireland’s data centre industry.
IT solutions company Rahi Systems, which has its European headquarters in Limerick, and Infrastructure Masons, a non-profit that works to attract and retain workers in digital industries, are leading the efforts. They are offering scholarships for students to study data centres facilities engineering at IT Sligo.
The bachelor of engineering course provides training for engineers entering the data centre industry, an ever-growing sector in the digital economy. It takes place mostly online, with practical laboratory sessions held in IT Sligo and Haute École Louvain en Hainaut in Belgium. The course has been developed with support from Facebook, Google and Microsoft.
These three tech giants and several other firms have large data centre facilities in Ireland. These massive investments lead to hulking buildings that churn through people’s data every day, keeping everyone online. But as demand for data centres grows, there is also increasing demand for the skilled talent to launch and operate them.
The Covid-19 pandemic and its acceleration of digital services has highlighted the importance of this infrastructure once again.
“The traditional idea of digital transformation which people have known, the internal resistance or cost blockers traditionally associated with transforming their technological abilities, have been irrevocably changed,” Marcus Doran, general manager of Rahi EMEA, said. “Covid-19 was the wake-up call that many companies needed to transform their technical abilities.”
Data centres aren’t unique, however, in the broader hunt for talent in the technology sector, and the data centre industry must compete in the highly competitive arena with tech giants and start-ups alike.
“The number of managers stating they are having difficulty finding qualified candidates for open infrastructure positions is rising steadily,” according to Simon Allen, executive director of Infrastructure Masons.
The organisation said that it aims to award at least 50pc of its scholarships to women. Allen added that more needs to be done to address gender imbalance in data centre professions, mirroring a disparity in the wider tech industry as well.
David Mulligan, the head of the mechatronic engineering department at IT Sligo, said the scholarship programme will help in getting a flow of talent into Ireland’s data centre sector.
“There is strong competition for emerging engineering talent across all industry sectors right now and it is important that the data centre industry is to the fore in promoting excellent career opportunities in this critical sector of the economy,” Mulligan said.