Demand for "cloud Relevant Products/Services-ready" IT workers will grow by 26 percent each year through 2015. So says a new Microsoft Relevant Products/Services-sponsored IDC white paper. If that estimate bears out, that means there could be as many as 7 million cloud-related jobs in the world.

That said, IT hiring managers report that the biggest reason they failed to fill an existing 1.7 million open cloud-related positions in 2012 is because job seekers lack the training and certification Relevant Products/Services needed to work in a cloud-enabled world.

The IT sector is seeing only modest growth of IT jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average growth in IT employment sits between 1.1 percent and 2.7 percent per year through 2020. But within the larger IT sector, cloud jobs are gaining major momentum -- and the IDC study suggests an urgent need to retrain existing IT professionals and encourage students to pursue cloud-related IT trainings and certifications.

"Unlike IT skill shortages in the past, solving this skills gap is extremely challenging, given that cloud brings a new set of skills which haven't been needed in the past," said Cushing Anderson, program vice president at IDC. "There is no one-size-fits-all set of criteria for jobs in cloud computing. Therefore, training and certification is essential for preparing prospective job candidates to work in cloud-related jobs."

Why So Cloudy?

Among the other findings, almost two-thirds of enterprises are planning, implementing or using cloud computing, and more than 50 percent of businesses agree that cloud computing is a high priority. However, more than three-quarters of businesses have apprehension about the security Relevant Products/Services, access or data Relevant Products/Services control of cloud computing.

Lack of training, certification or experience are the top three reasons why cloud positions are not filled. However, cloud-related skills represent virtually all the growth opportunities in IT employment worldwide and demand for cloud-related positions will grow by 26 percent annually through 2015.

"Cloud computing is crucial to the bottom line of the company -- it creates cost savings and efficiencies for companies and their customers," Anderson said. "Therefore, a cloud-savvy workforce Relevant Products/Services is essential to the success of the IT industry's financial health."

Microsoft's Clear Response

Anderson noted Microsoft recently announced reinvented certifications specifically for the cloud, including the coming certifications in Windows 8, which have cloud computing focus areas. He called the new certifications "more important than ever for current and future technologists who want to gain the skill set needed to work in the cloud and for companies looking to benefit from the cloud."

Microsoft launched the Microsoft Virtual Academy in an effort to make it simple for the active professional to add critical skills. The Microsoft Virtual Academy is a program for IT professionals to gain access to free, self-paced training resources using combinations of video and text. Microsoft is also helping fill the future workforce pipeline by providing training and certification through the Microsoft IT Academy.

"The opportunity that the cloud presents is significant, and we want to be certain that the workforce has the skills to share in that opportunity," said Lutz Ziob, general manager of Microsoft Learning. "Our goal is to continue to prepare the existing workforce and students for the jobs of tomorrow and empower them to develop their skills as future IT experts, innovators, software developers and beyond."