Australia is facing a shortfall of up to 7,000 telecommunications workers, according to a newly formed industry group.
The Australian Digital and Telecommunications Industry Association (ADTIA) says the extra workers will be needed to complete the NBN roll-out as well as to meet demand in growth areas such as video and triple-play services.
According to ADTIA industry and operations manager Gabriel Giofre, the organization is aware of immediate vacancies for around 450 workers in areas include cabling and line work, civil contracting, splicing, premise installations, mobile tower construction and planning and design.
However, the industry is currently experiencing rapid growth and ADTIA believes more needs to be done to ensure the future skills demand is met. The problem is heightened by the fact that the average age of the current telecoms workforce is around 40.
The existence of telecoms skill shortages, especially in relation to the NBN roll-out, is not a new issue but to date not enough has been done to quantify the extent of the problem or work out how to solve it. Over the first phase of the NBN roll-out, NBN Co and its contractors resorted to offshoring certain functions (design) and engaging 457 visa workers on construction. Meanwhile, local youth unemployment levels continue to rise.
ADTIA says it intends to produce a detailed workforce needs study early next year. It is to be hoped this helps focus the government’s mind on how the local telecoms workforce can be renewed and expanded to meet the growing needs of the sector and the community at large.