The telecoms industry is crying out for skilled engineers to plug the digital skills gap. Over the last few years, the industry has transformed from traditional voice telephony to a blended industry of IT and telecoms with the proliferation of unified communications solutions. The use of conferencing and collaboration solutions has increased exponentially since lockdown and now continues to exist in either a full time or hybrid capacity. As a result, engineers now need to be skilled in not only voice and mobile but also cloud, networking and conferencing and collaboration solutions such as Microsoft Teams and Xelion.
Not Enough Talent
The talent pool in this area is niche and at present there are more jobs than candidates, so the candidates available can demand high salaries, flexible working, and work for a company with the culture and ethics that they want to. Companies need to accept these terms and offer what the employees demand.
Digital Skills Gap
This skills gap in the telecoms industry is one small cog in a much larger wheel of the national digital skills gap that the UK faces. The advancement of technology is moving at a pace faster than the skills we have or are acquiring and this needs to be addressed urgently for the economy’s future. The digital economy contributes £400m to the UK each day, growing more quickly than the economy itself. According to new government figures the digital skills gap is estimated to cost the economy £63 billion a year.
Changing the Perception of Telecoms
Telecoms should be viewed as part of the technology industry and not as a standalone sector. Education, businesses, and the government need to work together to ensure that telecoms is incorporated into the overall technology industry, so people are aware of the career opportunities.
Time to Upskill
Businesses need to recruit and nurture local talent through apprentices and existing employees to ensure staff are skilled to keep up with the acceleration of technology. They must acknowledge this is an evolving journey and that one off training programmes are inadequate. By training, developing and skilling up your employees you will retain and attract the best talent. It is also important to realise that apprenticeships are not just for new employees but also opportunities for existing staff to gain new skills.
The government has a variety of incentives available, but education and industry need to drive the opportunities and take a wider view of who they recruit. Apprenticeships are not just for school leavers they are open to a range of people, those who maybe are in another career and want to re-train to work in a digital role where their skills are transferable, the unemployed and of course existing employees who want to upskill and develop.
Opportunity to create a diverse Team
The apprenticeship schemes are a good opportunity to widen your recruitment pool ensuring you are creating a diverse team by employing more women, people from different races, ages and socio-economic backgrounds.
According to Deloitte and Touche, only 33% of the workforce in the technology sector is female. This needs to be addressed from a young age in education where girls are encouraged to take Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects and to see that working in technology is cool and exciting.
It Starts at School
In the lower years of secondary school, there is a focus on coding, but students should also be exposed to different areas of technology at a young age particularly the creative element around tech and the endless possibilities it can create. By making it more creative, exciting and cool and appealing to more children to carry on studying the subject at higher education and not be discouraged.
Powering up with Apprentices
Businesses need to power up their workforce with apprentices to remain skilled in the latest technology and to keep up with the acceleration of new technologies and applications. By widening their recruitment pool through apprentices, they can have a more diverse staff who bring different talents and qualities to the company. Apprentices allow companies to nurture home grown talent, so your company thrives and remains one step ahead.