What is rapidly aging and largely male? If you said the heavy metal music scene, you wouldn\u2019t be wrong (c\u2019est moi), but that\u2019s not the answer in this instance. It\u2019s data center staffing.\nIn its recent report on data center efficiency, Uptime Institute focused primarily on outages and the improvement in power efficiency, but there were other interesting findings, such as this:\nData center staff are getting older on average, and women show no interest in the job.\n\nNew skills needed for hybrid IT environments\nAccording to the report, there is a growing need for new skills in an increasingly hybrid IT environment. New skills, such as overseeing and managing SLAs for off-premises workloads, are needed, but people don\u2019t have them. Just 35 percent of survey respondents reported that they did not have any of the hiring or staffing issues identified by Uptime.\nThe leading area of expertise that is particularly critical and yet difficult to hire for is operations and management, according to more than 50 percent of respondents. Finding people who have adequate skills in security, networking, electrical engineering, and cloud skills is also an issue.\nAcross all respondents, 17 percent said they are having difficulty retaining staff because they are being hired away. There has been intense hiring by hyperscale cloud and internet operators, as well as large colocation providers.\nLack of young people and women\nWhat\u2019s really of interest is what\u2019s not coming in: young people and women. More than half (56 percent) of respondents in the survey had more than 20 years\u2019 work experience. Only 5 percent were new to the industry, with fewer than five years\u2019 experience.\nThe survey also found women make up less than 6 percent of the workforce at most data centers, but that was not seen as a problem by 70 percent of the respondents.\nRhonda Ascierto, vice president of Uptime Institute Research, said the survey sample did focus on managers (with some engineers), who tend to have longer industry tenures, \u201cbut this is still a smaller portion than we had anticipated.\u201d\nAs for the lack of women in data centers, people attributed it to the tendency of organizations to hire entry-level staff from the military or trade school, whereas the other IT professions require college degrees and that pool will have more women than the other non-degree programs.\nWomen, she notes, fare better in other areas of tech. They make up 12 percent of engineering, 20 percent of IT management, and 34 percent of web developers.\n\u201cAdditionally, labor shortages, which will drive up costs, is a real and underestimated risk. This is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world, and even large operators, with their attractive salaries and career opportunities, can struggle to fill open positions," Ascierto said. "And yet the industry is effectively ignoring 50 percent of the population. There is growing consensus among data center industry leaders and elsewhere that the future success of the data center business will depend on building a diverse workforce.\u201d\nStaffing changes\nSkills and vertical industries are in flux. Many enterprises are cutting data center staff as they reduce their data center investment. Meanwhile, the colocation and cloud computing organizations are struggling to find candidates for open jobs and those who are hired have to learn new skills for the hybrid cloud world.\n\u201cChange is stressful, but it\u2019s shaking out,\u201d Ascierto said.\nOperators that are seeing success in their staffing strategies tend to focus on staff training, including cross-training existing personnel for both IT and facilities skills, which is essentially merging the two roles into a single generalist position.\n\u201cThis has proven particularly attractive in organizations with a stated cloud-first strategy, which can leave internal staff feeling uncertain about their long-term future,\u201d Ascierto said.