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Delivering on 5G Promises Requires Rapid Expansion and Upskilling of Telecom Network Workforce

New report from Eightfold AI outlines how telecoms can strengthen talent readiness to accelerate innovation and new offerings

Eightfold AI, the leader in AI-powered talent intelligence, announced the publication of a new Eightfold Talent Insights Report, “What Telecoms Need to Build a Future-Ready Workforce.” The report contains the findings and insights from the Eightfold Talent Intelligence Platform, a deep-learning platform powered by the largest global talent dataset, to determine talent readiness for addressing innovation trends in the telecommunications industry.

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With a constantly evolving skill mix due to automation, emerging technologies, and new business models, familiar telecom roles are undergoing a transformation of their own. The analysis by Eightfold found that:

  • Many of the most common roles and skills are not currently addressing innovation trends. When it comes to technician roles including Switch Engineers, Network Technicians, Network Administrators, and BSS Engineers, 33 percent of the top network engineering and operations roles are not yet equipped with future skills to address trending innovations.
  • However, by evaluating skills adjacencies, these common network engineering roles can follow alternative career paths to transition into rising roles such as Cyber Security Engineers, Cloud Engineers, and Performance Engineers.
  • While the industry is better positioned to build out capabilities for cloud and edge computing as well as big data, the analysis identified the industry’s lowest talent readiness is in areas such as 5G and Open RAN.
  • Telecoms have a short window of one to two years to build 5G capabilities, as providers accelerate 5G expansion and even prepare for 6G capabilities that will contribute to making emerging trends like the metaverse phenomenon a reality.

“Focusing on new products and services requires a new approach to the skills needed across the organization,” said Sasha Worthington, Global Head of Talent Acquisition Transformation at Ericsson. “Our ability to quickly adapt to market changes is not only being strengthened by accessing the best people on the market as quickly as possible, but also by empowering employees to have a dynamic understanding of their skills profiles as they build personalized and future-proofed career paths.”

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For the telecommunications industry to overcome its talent challenges and capitalize on new offerings, the solution is three-fold:

  • Upskill and reskill the current workforce to help bridge the gap between declining and rising skills, leveraging skills adjacency to inform learnability. The process starts by identifying alternative rising career paths, such as Network Technician into Cyber Security Engineer, by evaluating skills adjacencies and outlining the skills requirements into those future roles.
  • Calibrate roles with future skills to build out career paths based on the rising skills within other fast-growing, innovative companies. For a Big Data Engineer, for example, telecoms would benefit from calibrating roles with fast rising skills present within the workforces of Amazon, Meta, IBM, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Netflix.
  • Hire for potential to tap into a significantly larger pool of qualified talent. By adopting a “hiring for potential” approach, telecoms could increase their workforces by nearly threefold in areas such as 5G, cloud computing, and Python. This increases to nearly 4 times for future skills like agile methodologies.

“Speed and scalability are everything in the race to deliver the next big thing. This sense of urgency is only compounded by the fact that telecoms constitute a backbone for all other emerging technologies to function and evolve,” said Kamal Ahluwalia, President of Eightfold AI. “Now is the time to upskill the existing workforce, build a skills-based employee experience, and attract the brightest minds in the industry that will accelerate this digital reinvention for telecoms.”

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