IBM is clearly concerned about the big data skills shortage. It has announced the addition of another 9 universities to its big data training program. The economic importance of the program was also underlined this week by the announcement that it has just secured a US$ 1 billion federal contract for cloud computing.

Big Data, Analytics Skills Shortages

The problem for IT giants that are currently muscling into the big data market is that the development of the technology has been so rapid the number of big data/analytics projects currently underway far outweighs the number of people that have appropriate skills.

In fact between now and the end of 2015, IBM estimates that there will be 4.4 million jobs worldwide in big data support. At the moment it is not clear where all the people required to fill these positions are going to come from.

At least some of them, however, will be provided by IBM backed programs as Big Blue is betting a large part of its business on big data and analytics, and is not going to risk all that by a problem as easily identifiable as skills shortages.

IBM’s Training Programs

If the problem is easy to identify, it is not that easy to fix. The result is IBM's ongoing sponsorship program for academic institutions that provide programs on the use of big data applications and related subjects.

Currently, IBM says that it is involved in more than 1000 partnerships with universities globally. While the nine new programs are largely based in the US, there are also a couple in places as diverse as Ireland and India, both economies that have established IT credentials.

But it’s not just IT companies that have identified the potential skills shortage that is looming over the IT industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor estimates that over the next 8 years the demand for big data skills will grow by 24% as enterprises in all verticals seek to process the massive amount of data that is landing in enterprise databases. Data Management is becoming incredibly sexy!

IBM’s US$ 1bn Government Cloud Contract

Other news from IBM during the week underscores the need for big data professionals: it has secured a US$ 1 billion contract from the US Department of the Interior to move its IT infrastructure to the cloud.

With the amount of information passing through this department, big data analytics in the cloud is going to be an important part of that, especially as the infrastructure will be accessible by other government departments through the DOI’s Foundation Cloud Hosting Services.

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