Looking to ramp up for huge cloud projects but limited by the number of qualified people you can find? You’re not alone. 

According to Gartner, “insufficient cloud [infrastructure-as-a-service] skills will delay half of enterprise IT organizations’ migration to the cloud by two years or more” through next year. Also, according to Logicworks’ Challenges in Cloud Transformation survey, the IT talent shortage is a leading concern, with 86% of respondents believing it will continue to slow down cloud projects. 

Old news? Old problem. But now most companies consider digital transformation and the movement to cloud as business imperatives. Slowing down the movement to cloud could eventually kill the core business.

This shift in priorities is causing some companies to be rather creative in finding the right cloud skills. Here are three approaches that are innovative and effective that most organizations are not thinking about.

Hire and train. These days when training is on demand and almost free, it’s cost effective to hire people who have the right attitude but maybe not the right skills—yet.

I’m much more apt to hire somebody who has the right outlook of how to carry out IT but may not have all the skills and certifications I’m looking for. The best value for the company would be to hire them and spend as much as 70% of their time in paid and sponsored training for the first few months.

You’ll end up with an employee who has the right skills for a project and the right outlook on how things need to get done. You’ll also have instilled the idea of being a self-motivated learner, thus ensuring that their skills stay state of the art. Some of those CVs that end up in the trash can because they lack all the skills needed may deserve a second look.

Mentoring projects. One of the best ways that I’ve been leveraged on projects is not just to get applications and data migrated from the data center to the cloud, but to mentor most of the project team on the right way to do architecture, development, security, governance, etc.

Basically, I’ve provided on-the-job training to employees so they can obtain the skills to go solo on the next project. You can augment mentoring with external training and certifications, as mentioned above. This seems to be the fastest way to build true experience, and while it does slow the project down as you transfer skills, you’re really killing two birds with one stone.

Network locally. One of the most effective ways to hire during skills shortages is to get involved with local special interest groups focused on those skills.

Cloud meetups occur all the time and many are starting to take place in person. These events move around and take place in the evening. The idea is to meet as many skilled people as you can and let them know that you’re hiring. You can even offer up meeting space in your company as well as provide snacks and drinks. Cheap but effective.

It’s going to be a battle for talent during the next few years. My advice is don’t follow the crowd or toss money at the problem. Be creative, and you’ll find the teammates you need.