Congratulations on CNet Training’s 25th anniversary. This is a fantastic achievement. In your opinion, what are the key aspects that contributed to this success?
Twenty-five years really is a fantastic achievement. I love leading the CNet team and looking back at our achievements over the years. Companies don’t last a quarter of a century without a lot of hard work from a dedicated team. Success doesn’t come from just one person, it takes a whole team of great people. I’m so grateful to have just such a talented and passionate team. Many have worked with the company for a long time. All are driven to help CNet succeed and continue as the global leader of technical education for the digital infrastructure industry.
Throughout the last 25 years, we have constantly strived to be the best at what we do by delivering programs of the highest quality and being at the forefront of innovation for technical education across the industry. From scratch, we created a fantastic education framework that allows sector professionals to plan educational programs that meet their needs. It is recognized and respected all over the world, something that makes me immensely proud. This framework provides designations that have become key skills reference points, which lets those holding them clearly demonstrate their ability and experience. As an organization, we never want to stand still and be complacent. Personally, I want to leave a legacy to make the industry a better place for all. We constantly evolve in response to industry trends and customer demands. We always are reviewing and adapting our learning material to ensure we stay current, while looking for further ways to create the best educational experience for all. We want participants to really benefit from the experience and use everything they learn when returning to their day-to-day roles.
Can you tell us about your recent highlights?
During the last few years at CNet, we’ve had a lot of great experiences. This year we’re celebrating five years since the first cohort started the world’s first Masters Degree in Data Center Leadership and Management. It’s great to recognize the commitment and hard work these senior individuals put in over the three years and for them now to be recognized as the global elite in data center leadership.
Additionally, we launched the Network Cable Installer (NCI®) Apprenticeship in the UK in 2019. It has proved to be very popular and a small but significant step in helping to solve the skills gap.
We created remote attendance capability in 2017 (way before any pandemic created the need). This allowed CNet to seamlessly continue to deliver programs to learners from across the world.
Another highlight is CNet’s Competency & Confidence Assessment Modelling (CCAM®) Tool. Created specifically for the data center sector, it can revolutionize the way data center managers identify, handle and mitigate people risk. CCAM® focuses on individuals’ real skills, knowledge and ability gaps. Through subsequent targeted intervention, behavior can be positively changed and, subsequently, human-related risks reduced.
What are some crucial issues the data center industry is facing?
The skills shortage alongside an aging workforce is still one of the key issues facing the data center industry. Data centers need more people. As demand for data center capacity increases, organizations are already struggling to keep up to find new recruits. Most people currently working in a data center didn’t set out for a career in the sector. The majority, one way or another, fell into it. The industry can’t wait for people to just fall into it going forward. More needs to be done to put the industry on the map with clear career pathways, similar to what’s already in place for individuals seeking careers as electricians, plumbers, and construction workers.
Collaboration is key to achieve this. Securing the future pipeline of talent requires businesses to work together to give individuals insight into potential jobs and opportunities. A concerted executive buy-in also is needed, leading from the top to emphasize this as a priority.
Why is the focus on skills and professional education so important across the data center industry?
Education and training are still one of the main ways to prevent outages caused by human error in the data center. Unfortunately, human beings are the largest single point of failure in the modern data center. Findings from a recent Uptime Institute survey show that this problem is getting worse, with outages becoming more frequent. We need to address this and look for ways to reduce ‘highly preventable’ downtime. Processes and rigorous professional development plans must become the norm. Organizations need to continually assess, review, and enhance their teams’ knowledge and skills. Investing in staff education and personal development can pay significant dividends. Educated/officially certified individuals could potentially save their employer millions by doing things right the first time, and therefore mitigating the possibility of an outage, or recognizing and resolving an issue early and preventing it from becoming more serious in the future.
Organizations that invest in education and give their people opportunities to grow have a happier and more satisfied workplace that appreciates being valued and are therefore more likely to want to stay and grow within the organization.