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Building the skills Australia needs for the future

Telstra News T22

Posted on January 31, 2019

4 min read

We’re working to partner with the tertiary sector to address skills shortages in areas that Telstra – and Australia – needs for the future.

Discussion on the future of work often turns negative with concern that robots and automation will take away most jobs. While this shouldn’t be downplayed as technology will adversely impact some types of jobs, the scale of technological change is also bringing with it huge demand for skilled jobs in areas such as software and network engineering, cyber security and data analytics. Demand in Australia is far outweighing the number of people available with these skills – and the number of graduates is simply not enough to stem the growing skills gap.

To put this into perspective, Australia produced around 1,200 new software engineers in the last 12 months, compared to 44,000 in India.

When we look at the deep domain technical skills that we need now – and into the future – there are not enough people with these skills available in Australia.

But this is not only a challenge for Telstra. Competitive advantage is becoming increasingly tied to an organisation’s – and a country’s – technical capabilities. So developing a skilled workforce is critical to our future economic success.

So what’s the solution?

A multifaceted approach is needed to develop the right core skills to set up Australia with a population ready and able to work productively in the innovative workplaces of the future. A major component of this involves collective and progressive action between business, government and the education sector to shape how we build these skills.

As a major employer in Australia, we want to play a role in making this happen.

As part of our T22 strategy we are retraining our people in areas our business needs. For example, we recently trained some of our existing store team members as small business specialists so that we have more people dedicated to supporting this customer segment. We are also training some people to be Agile Coaches to help our teams adapt to our new work practices.

Beyond this, we have contributed to developing the next-generation of workers over a number of years. For example, we have long-running Graduate, Summer Vacation and Traineeship programs to develop early business and technology talent, and we’ve also been involved in the Australian Government’s P-TECH program for high school students. Parts of our business have also taken a leading role in developing specific technology skills, such as sponsoring the Australian Government’s Cyber Security Challenge Australia hacking competition which provides a practical application of the skills students learn in university and TAFE.

But we’re now stepping up this activity by taking a more holistic approach as an organisation and will be establishing formal partnerships with additional tertiary providers to develop the critical skills we need.

Building strong partnerships with tertiary providers

We recently started to partner with the University of Wollongong on their Global Leaders Development Program and have taken our first of their Big Data students as an intern (one of 80 students from around Australia who have been working with us over the summer).

We intend to expand this approach in the months ahead to include additional tertiary institutions with a focus on critical skills like software-defined networking and machine learning.

Adapting our Graduate program to develop the right technology skills

These partnerships will be supported by a new-look Graduate program for our next cohort starting in 2020. This group will go through a 12-month program that will include two in-depth rotations and three learning and experience accelerators to develop specific technology-based capability.

Graduates will be recruited in areas such as software and network engineering, information and cyber security, data analytics and management, product and service design, as well as finance and Human Resources.

In line with demand, we will increase our intake in Australia to around 190 for our 2020 program – up from 150 this year. Applications will open in March for Australian-based positions.

We will continue to access talent and skills where we need to, particularly in areas where there are skills shortages. This means we’ll expand our international Graduate program, which has run in our Hong Kong and Singapore hubs over the past few years, to include software engineering graduates in India who will be based at our new Innovation and Capability Centre in Bangalore.

This is just part of what we’re doing to develop future technology talent. We are committed to ongoing partnerships – with the government, the education sector and other corporates – to address the critical skills shortages in this country and set up Australia for future success.

 

Tags: AI, careers, education, IoT,