Our lives and businesses rely on the Cloud. So much so, that Cloud computing spend has grown at 4.5 times the rate of the wider IT industry since 2009. And, looking ahead, it’s expected to grow at more than 6 times the rate of spending through 2020, according to IDC. The only way is up for Cloud adoption and, in turn, the skills to support that growth. As the latest Tech Cities Job Watch highlighted, demand for Cloud professionals is very strong, clearly outstripping supply. However, these individuals cannot rest on their laurels. Cloud will continue to play a critical role in the years ahead, but as new developments are made, the skills which professionals need to possess will change. As with all IT professionals, constant upskilling is required to ensure Cloud specialists can stay one step ahead of employer demand. Individuals will need to reskill and upskill because there are industry challenges that they need to help their employer overcome. Alternatively, they may want to develop skills to enable themselves to harness new opportunities in the Cloud sector, and make themselves more employable as a result. Either way, it’s important that they keep one eye on the future, so they can align their skills to future requirements. Here are three ways in which Cloud professionals will need to evolve and upskill in the years ahead: Integration Over the last few years, Cloud services have become incredibly easy to acquire and set up. We’re constantly seeing new innovations entering the marketplace, which organisations are keen to harness. With little governance in place to manage this, it’s easy to create a hotchpotch of Cloud elements, which cannot exchange data between one another. As a result, many organisations have a jumble of public and private Cloud services working alongside their heritage on-premise IT services. Cloud professionals who can develop solutions to bind all of these disparate elements together will be in high demand. This is a real opportunity for Cloud professionals, and those who do not currently have these skills would do well to upskill in this area. Organisations will be looking for those professionals who can draw on deep technical expertise to break down technological silos and unleash the full potential of the Cloud services. At the same time, this same person will need strong business skills, in order to educate the ‘powers that be’ on the necessity to take a different approach to Cloud service integration. Security One of the major reasons why so many organisations are heavily investing in the Cloud is because of the need for greater IT security. They’re all too aware of the potential ramifications of hacks and security breaches, from both a monetary and reputational perspective. So much so, that Gartner expects worldwide information security spending to reach $93bn in 2018, while IDC anticipates that this figure will reach $102bn by 2020. For many organisations, the Cloud presents an ideal way to stay one step ahead of the hackers. As a result, the role of Cloud professionals is becoming increasingly intertwined with that of an IT Security specialist. In many ways, the two roles now go hand-in-hand. And, as more and more innovative solutions emerge in this space, the two roles are likely to get even closer. With this in mind, we can expect to see demand for both Cloud and IT Security professionals to grow in the years ahead. Those professionals that can have a foot in both camps will be particularly desirable. Edge Computing One of the more recent developments in Cloud computing is the move away from centralised Cloud platforms, and the emergence of Edge Computing. Instead of data being whizzed across to data centres to be processed, data is processed within the device in which the data resides. It’s a quicker, more efficient solution, which reduces latency and limits bandwidth requirements, too. We can expect Edge Computing to further drive up demand for Cloud talent, as it will open up further opportunities for remote devices to communicate data with one another. It’s critical that Cloud professionals quickly get to grips with the intricacies of Edge Computing development, so they have the precise skills required to meet this demand. The Cloud has become a critical element of business and societal infrastructure. But it can only grow and develop as fast the supply of skilled people allows. The most employable Cloud professionals will be the ones who start upskilling in areas where demand may not currently exist, but which will be in high demand in the years ahead. These individuals will be ahead of the curve and able to command a premium when employers come knocking. Organisations have an important role to play, too. While it’s important that Cloud professionals take responsibility for their own development, it will only be effective if they have the support and guidance of their employer. IT employees at different levels and with different specialisms want – and need – vastly different training. Businesses that offer each group the chance to dictate their training programme, and then give them the time and space to upskill, will benefit from highly skilled staff. To learn more about the trends affecting the Cloud workforce now and in the future, download the latest Tech Cities Job Watch – it puts a spotlight on the emerging tech opportunities and challenges businesses face across the UK: techcities.experis.co.uk.