Not long ago, Mission Critical launched a new column, Talent Matters by Andy Lane to cover personnel challenges faced by data center operators and to help industry professionals cope in a challenging job market. We launched the column in response to a high level of chatter about the industry’s need for more qualified personnel and to attract young blood to replace an aging workforce.

Prior to Talent Matters, Doug Sandberg and Peter Curtis both repeatedly note this problem in the Mission Critical columns Mission Critical Care and Digital Power. Engineering and even electrical contracting are not exciting fields like banking or finance that promise high incomes. I’ve also heard that the nuclear industry and utilities in general share the same concern. I’m sure there are other fields that are not sexy enough or lucrative enough to lure the best and the brightest.

I have seen plenty of evidence that the industry lacks enough experienced people. Certainly the number of job changes by well-recognized industry figures suggests that companies are looking for people with a record of accomplishment. But isn’t that always the case? Even in down economies, businesses need to improve and compete.

I wonder, though, how companies identify rising stars ready to make the next step. If businesses don’t take concrete steps to groom successors to aging stars, their expertise will be gone in a wave of retirements. Andy Lane has been talking a great deal about this problem in his column.

But the basic question remains. Has the industry taken any steps to identify and recruit young people who want entry-level positions at engineering and construction firms, service companies, and even in manufacturing? These people could be the future of the industry and will be needed when this generation’s rising stars decide to retire.

Aside from some very good college programs and Marist’s IDCP program, I see very few openings available to potential entry-level workers looking to work in the field, which is quite surprising given the industry chatter about the shortage of good workers.

And outreach efforts are desperately needed, if mission-critical industries are short of willing workers. Even in this economy, college students and recent graduates do not see careers in this industry as a possibility. Oh, many would be willing to do the work, but few can identify the best way to break into the industry or see making the industry as a career.  The doors to entry are not so much blocked as they are hidden from view.

Or perhaps, the chatter is wrong, and concerns about recruiting qualified people to the industry unfounded.

Which is it?

I’d love to hear from my readers on this subject, and I bet some of them would benefit from hearing how to get started in this field.