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Equipping Telecom Workers for the 5G Era

The impending rollout of 5G technology requires new skills. Telecom companies need to appeal to younger generations in order to keep up.

The cities we live in are facing a fundamental change: with the continued rollout of extremely fast 5G technology, they’re leveraging wireless communication to become more sustainable, healthier, and more efficient. Telecom companies have been gearing up for this dramatic transformation, but they’re running into skills gaps.

For example, few telecom workers have the skills needed to build and maintain 5G infrastructure. In addition, more workers are needed with skills in Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, and augmented and virtual reality, among other areas.

The EU is planning a 5G rollout “on a massive scale in the following years, and the opportunities are incredible,” points out UK company Akixi. “5G will be essential in a future where remote and mobile workers need to operate seamlessly outside of the office.”

In fact, “5G has the potential to create or transform up to 20 million jobs across all sectors of the economy” between 2021 and 2025, according to Accenture’s The Impact of 5G on the European Economy report. Yet, many of today’s students are unaware of job opportunities in the 5G industry. 

Collaborating to train workers

For that reason, British telecom company Three developed a program to attract university graduates.

“We want to be the employer of choice for these grads that move forward, because … getting that fresh thinking and diverse thinking into your organization is really, really important,”


explains Robert Finnegan, chief executive officer for Three Ireland and Three UK. 

The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) has also taken steps to train workers for the industry and to standardize training. 

“Our operators, network builders, our companies haven’t slowed down. Investment has continued. As a result of that, we need more and more people. More people are available in the market, but the challenge still lies. We need to train them. That is the main thing,” says Dr. Rikin Thakker, chief technology officer for WIA.

WIA received a grant to work with community colleges and expand its apprenticeships through the only Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program. 

Other telecom companies must take similar decisive actions to attract younger workers and to equip them to be effective in the impending 5G future. 

Becoming an attractive employer

To appeal to younger generations, you have to know what they want. Generation Y (millennials) and Generation Z prioritize work-life balance and diversity, according to PwC research. They’re also attracted to employers with strong corporate social responsibility values. 

Yet, the Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey found that “fewer than half of Gen Zs see business as a force for good in society.” Along with that, nearly 60% of millennials and Gen Zs fear businesses will focus less on their commitment to reverse climate change as they emerge from the pandemic. 

Implementing initiatives that focus on addressing these issues can make telecom companies more appealing to younger generations, but follow-through is imperative. Generations Y and Z vote with their feet. If they don’t think your company is genuine about its environmental and social policies, they’ll choose one that is over yours. 

Using data to personalize the experience

Establishing practices and policies that highlight younger generations’ priorities is only part of the solution. What’s really needed is a holistic approach to talent lifecycle management. That can make the difference between a telecom company’s success and failure. 

Talent lifecycle management is a modern strategy to manage every aspect of the talent lifecycle, from creating and nurturing candidate pipelines to internal mobility and career development, and beyond. 

At the center of this approach is talent-related data. No doubt, your company has collected data from every candidate, whether external or internal. If that data is stored across the company in multiple systems, you’re not getting much out of it. 

The first point of action is to transfer all of that data into an AI-powered, centralized repository, or talent data platform, that integrates with the rest of your tool stack so that you get a single source of truth. That will put your talent teams in a better position to quickly identify and segment that data. 

In that way, you can pool candidates based on skills, backgrounds, age, etc. For example, creating talent pools of young candidates makes it easier to target them with personalized campaigns and tailored content that speaks to those age groups. 

Because personalization is important to younger generations, you don’t want to overlook it. You can customize communications by including the recipient’s name and highlighting things of interest based on the data you have about that person. For instance, you could invite the candidate to a mixer with current employees in the same age bracket. Or you could share an employee case study about young workers who advanced into management positions. 

You can then go a step further to engage those candidates by seeking their feedback on the mixer or case study. Taking proactive steps like these can make your company an employer of choice.

Learn how Beamery helps telecom companies attract younger generations and prepare for a 5G future.