In a study it sponsored at market researcher IDC, the Redmond, Wash., company said demand for cloud-ready information technology workers should grow 26 percent to 7 million by 2015.
Managers told IDC, of Framingham, Mass., they didn't fill 1.7 million current positions this year because applicants lacked adequate skills.
That reflects “the harsh reality that workforces around the world are steps behind when it comes to attaining the steps necessary to thive in the cloud-computing industry,” said Cushing Anderson, IDC program VP.
The study cited U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predictions of overall technology group growth ranging between 1.1 percent and 2.7 percent through 2020. Cloud-related demand is higher.
Cloud-related skills represent “virtually all the growth opportunities” in the technology sector, IDC said.
This month, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported that fewer than 250,000 Americans are employed in the domestic chip sector. Computer and telecommunications equipment manufacturing has moved mainly to emerging markets. TechAmerica, the industry trade group, estimates 6 million Americans were employed in technology as of June 30.
Outside the U.S., demand for technology jobs is higher. IDC expects demand to rise 4.3 percent annually through 2015, when there may be 29.3 million jobs.
This year, IDC estimated the U.S. accounted for 62 percent of all cloud-related expenses. But emerging markets will grow quickly, too. In some areas, such as Europe, shift to private cloud computing eclipses public sector computing.
Microsoft, which had a payroll of 94,000 on Sept. 30, has deployed what it calls Microsoft IT Academy and Microsoft Virtual Academy to enable online training.
They are “examples of our commitment to the present and future workforce,” said Microsoft VP Lutz Ziob.
Shares of Microsoft rose 32 cents to $27.63 in late Thursday trading. Including dividends, they've gained 9 percent in the past 52 weeks.