DCD>Academy, DCD's data center training, learning, and development unit, has partnered with data center community group Infrastructure Masons for a new scholarship program for college students in the US.

Announced at this year's DCD>Connect event in New York last month, the partnership will see DCD>Academy’s full training portfolio be made available, free-of-charge, to all students taking part in the project.

The iMasons Capstone initiative acts as a year-long mentorship program that culminates in a final data center design project for STEM students in their final year of college. The program was piloted at Hampton University, a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in South Virginia during the 2020/21 academic year.

The Capstone Project is currently made up of 20 students, with DCD>Academy pledging over $250,000 of free training. However, DCD>Academy's managing director, Darren Mcgrath, said that “the sky's the ceiling” in terms of how much could be committed moving forward, saying that the DCD>Academy funding will grow in tandem with the size of iMasons’ project.

“Thanks to the generous support of DCD>Academy, these students will be able to enter the workforce with industry-recognized credentials,” said Courtney Popp, EDU Program Manager at iMasons.

Last year’s Uptime Institute report stated that the headcount for extra staffing requirements will reach 300,000 by 2025. With a rapidly ageing workforce and talent poaching rife, there are legitimate concerns that the industry is sleepwalking into an early grave.

While the data center labor shortage is both widely acknowledged and talked about at industry events at great length, a lack of practical action threatens to continue to exacerbate the issue.

“As an industry, it’s vital we come together around education,” said George Rockett, founder & CEO of DCD>Academy. “If staffing needs are going to be met, we need to look outward. Getting data center-focused curriculums in front of those in higher education is crucial if we are to create a talent pipeline that the industry so desperately needs.”

The initiative follows others, like the UK-based UTC Heathrow program, in helping students increase their career opportunities while also looking to create long-term benefits for the data center industry through educating the next generation of engineers.

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