CyrusOne and partners tackle long-term UK STEM skill shortages in data centre sector - The EE

CyrusOne and partners tackle long-term UK STEM skill shortages in data centre sector

Steve Hayward of CyrusOne

London, UK — CyrusOne Inc., a global data centre REIT (real estate investment trust), is partnering with University Technical College Heathrow (UTC Heathrow) and techUK to create the Data Centre UTC in the UK. This is part of the recently launched Digital Futures Program.

In a bid to help address the data centre industry’s long-term skills gap, UTC Heathrow has agreed to redesign its existing curriculum to allow students to gain the essential knowledge and skills needed to thrive in technical careers within the data centre sector and add it as a new career path option, with CyrusOne confirmed as a key partner to help to define the syllabus.

The collaboration will also see CyrusOne and other industry partners deliver content, teach, provide work experience placements and apprenticeship training.

This partnership claims to be a first for the industry, and will be the first time that mainstream education and the data centre sector are working together to provide a clearly defined and repeatable path into the sector. Not only will this partnership increase the number of students with diverse STEM skills to meet the industry’s technical needs for domestic talent, but it also will raise awareness and position the sector as a career destination of choice.

“The data centre industry is experiencing a critical skills shortage and initiatives like this are imperative to securing the future of this sector,” says Steve Hayward, senior director, European operations at CyrusOne. “The time is now for organisations to get creative on ways to both maintain their current workforce and help grow their talent pool for the future. We are looking forward to see the opportunities that this partnership will provide and hope to see this initiative replicated across other UTCs around the UK.” 

The annual Digital Futures Program intake is limited to 100 students at age 14, and 150 students studying the Level 3 engineering curriculum. Younger students will compete in industry-led Challenge Days, develop employability skills, and receive masterclasses to bring subjects to life, alongside studying for their GCSEs. Meanwhile older students will complete team projects within the curriculum, and benefit from building impactful relationships with industry professionals. Students will leave UTC Heathrow with a BTEC Level 3 National Diploma/Extended Diplomas in Engineering and Aeronautical Engineering (NQF).

Andrew Stevens, president and CEO of CNet, who helped create and develop the Digital Futures Program alongside UTC Heathrow, adds, “The skills gap is not getting any easier for the digital infrastructure industry. We all need to work together and do it in a way that will make a real difference at a time when young people need inspiration, support, and the opportunity to secure a career with huge opportunities. This is a problem that the industry can only tackle head-on by working collectively; we need to showcase the amazing career opportunities within the data centre sector and help young people to prepare for and access them.”

Emma Fryer, associate director at TechUK, says, “I’m absolutely delighted that data centre operators, many of whom are competitors, are pulling together as a team to define and deliver a meaningful long-term benefit for the sector a pipeline of young talent with the skills we need.”

A large part of UTC’s curriculum is based around project-based learning. Committed to transforming lives through UK government-funded education, UTCs are open to learners aged 14-19 and are dedicated to an alternative way of teaching technical and scientific subjects to create the engineers, scientists and technicians of tomorrow.

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