As more organizations clamor for employees with some type of DevOps education, higher education is responding in kind, according to survey findings.
A survey of 843 students and teachers at various academic institutions who have had some exposure to the GitLab continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) platform suggests the number of individuals with DevOps skills graduating from these programs soon might increase significantly.
The survey, which was conducted by GitLab, identifies the top four use cases for the platform as learning (28%), teaching (22%), research (20%) and information technology/professional use (19%). Nearly a quarter (22%) also indicated they had a secondary use case on campus.
Certification (57%) was ranked highest in terms of interest, followed by e-learning (49%) and virtual instructor led-training (35%). Students and graduate students are more interested in certification at 58% and 67%, respectively, while administration, faculty and staff were more interested in e-learning.
The primary benefit of teaching and learning GitLab was identified as the ability to teach operations competencies (57%) and the ability to teach with an end-to-end tool for learning DevOps competencies (51%). For students specifically, the top benefit cited was the ability to teach operational competencies (49%), followed by the ability to build a portfolio and record of contributions (45%). Workforce readiness was cited at 40% and 46% of students and faculty, respectively.
Dr. Christina Hupy, senior education program manager at GitLab, said the teaching of best DevOps practices within an academic environment is critical because it takes on average six years for IT professionals to master DevOps in the workplace. To help increase the overall pool for DevOps talent, GitLab has been making its software available for free via individual licenses to students and teachers. That program is now being extended to include a GitLab for Campuses offer, which makes the GitLab platform available to multiple users at a reduced price.
In general, higher education programs have not been meeting the needs of organizations that are looking to hire IT professionals with proven DevOps skills, noted Hupy. Since launching the GitLab for Education Program in 2018, GitLab is trying to help fill that void, issuing more than $2 billion worth of GitLab software licenses in more than 75 countries. In 2020, the organization added 340,000 seats across 250 institutions to the program.
More than a third of survey respondents (37%) reported they had access to a GitLab subscription at their institution and used it. The most common use case for GitLab cited was source control management (55%); followed by verification, also known as continuous integration, at 36%; planning, at 30%; and management and release, also known as continuous delivery, at 27% each.
There is also significant use of GitHub among survey respondents, with 85% reporting using it. A distant second was Jenkins (21%), followed by BitBucket (17%), Travis CI (11%) and GitHub Actions (15%).
IT organizations, of course, have a vested interest in helping educational institutions develop DevOps programs as the number of application development projects being launched simultaneously continues to increase. Otherwise, they will find themselves paying top dollar for DevOps talent that is difficult to find and retain. The challenge, of course, is identifying the institutions that have access to the DevOps tools and platforms that are going to be a pre-requisite for a successful DevOps career those students might eventually enjoy.