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Mind the gap: Does cloud widen the digital skills divide?

How will cloud change the job you do and the skills you need? Or will things simply continue as they are now?

Not everyone is convinced by the promise of greater innovation, however. "It's like outsourcing a decade ago, but with immense granularity and flexibility that outsourcing never had. It won't unlock innovation, but it will allow companies to play with and experiment with technology in ways they've never been able to before, because it's so cheap," says Alex McDonald, Chair of SNIA's Cloud Storage Initiative and SNIA Europe UK Country Committee member.

"And it's quick too; applications can be written in days, deployed in minutes and ramped up and down based on demand within seconds."

There is widespread concern that we're heading for another skills gap. And some industry players are taking it upon themselves to try and prevent this from happening. Indeed, ANS Group recently launched a Cloud Academy' in response to the decline in applicants deciding to study at degree level.

"Apprenticeships and on-the-job based training are the ideal way to bring talented young people into our industry," says Scott Fletcher, founder and chairman of ANS Group.

"The quality of apprenticeships is a particularly poignant issue in the high-tech business sector.There is no way that a local college can keep pace with the speed of change in IT and by the time they have developed  a course it is generally out of date. More involvement from employers in developing apprenticeships is essential.

"The IT industry is obviously fluid and businesses need to re-invent themselves every few years. There is  no sitting back on past glories in our industry and young talent is the essential fuel for that re-invention."

ANS' initiative, which forms part of the Government's Employer Ownership of Skill Pilot will see up to 50 candidates trained up each year. There are future plans to expand this apprenticeship scheme out to other firm's workers too, according to ANS.

"A lot of companies are now starting to grasp the nettle over training their own staff and it's resulting in a lot of innovation on our apprenticeship scheme there is hardly any classroom time, for example, it's mostly on the job training," Fletcher adds.

"It would be great to think we could have 1,000s of young people every year being work ready with the appropriate STEM skills at eighteen. Given the growth expected in the digital sector, it is essential that we address the growing skills shortage."

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