Skip to main content

Why Now Is the Time to Upskill Telecom Workers

Digital skills are in high-demand across all industries. The quickest and most effective way for telecom companies to get the skills they need is to look within and shift their focus from hiring new talent to upskilling existing talent through an internal mobility strategy.

The telecom industry is gearing up to fuel transformation on multiple fronts. The advent of ‘smart cities’ is increasing pressure on telecom companies to build up their talent base. In a highly digital landscape (especially after the COVID-19-spurred shift to remote work), the telecom industry is now competing with every other industry for specialized and highly skilled talent.

“The need for data scientists, for instance, greatly outstrips supply,” according to McKinsey research. “The problem is especially acute for telecom companies, where as much as 88% of digital talent who switch companies decide to leave the subsector altogether.”

This attrition only exacerbates the labor shortage, as does the uncertainty of which skills will be needed in the future. With so much turnover in the workforce today, retaining current talent is top of mind for all business leaders.

“Europe needs to upskill and reskill the population and workforce of tomorrow by taking digital literacy to the next level,” asserts the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). “42% of Europeans lack basic digital skills, while 57% of companies are struggling to find ICT (information and communications technology) personnel.”

Accenture adds that today’s business leaders “must start by identifying where you expect to compete as an enterprise, and what skills gaps will prevent successfully executing those strategies.”

Accenture’s 2022 Industry trends report goes on to say, “developing the pipeline for new talent will be a longer term effort that should nevertheless begin today. In the interim, companies should explore upskilling existing employees.”

Upskilling in action

In an effort to grow its technology expertise, French telecom company Orange, implemented a five-year upskilling effort for its 148,000 employees that began in February 2020 – at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the company is focused on training its workers in the areas of AI, data, cybersecurity, network management, 5G, cloud and soft skills.

“We believe that Orange’s sustainable transformation will depend on each and everyone’s ability to learn in new ways and to share their knowledge and expertise, and that the combination of technical and soft skills is one of the keys to our future success,” explains Valerie Le Boulanger, Executive Director of Human Resources for Orange.

Research firm IDC agrees. “Through 2024, shortcomings in critical skills creation and training efforts by industry leaders will prevent 65% of businesses from achieving full value from cloud, data, and automation investments.”

Other telecom companies, such as BT and Telefonica, have followed Orange’s upskilling example. “Not everyone will radically change their job” as a result of upskilling, notes Elisabeth Fonteix, head of learning and development for Orange. “But each person will be able to integrate the fundamentals into their job at their own pace, allowing them to progress and adapt.”

The benefits of upskilling your talent

There are benefits on both sides when employees are invested in and developed – for both the employer and the employee. Here are some of the top benefits you can expect from a well strategized development and internal mobility program:

  • Increased productivity
  • Improved employee engagement and retention
  • Higher workplace morale
  • Cost savings in the hiring process
  • Shorter ramp-up times for new roles

According to Lever, 67% of today’s employees would leave their organizations altogether if they didn’t allow internal mobility. Employees are hungry for development and career growth. Internal mobility gives workers the new job and growth opportunities they desire, without having to leave the company (a win-win scenario for the employee and the employer).

That just goes to show that when workers feel as though their career development is valued by their employer, they are more likely to remain loyal to the company.

How to start an upskilling effort

In order for telecom companies to effectively upskill and reskill their workers, they must first know what skills their employees already have, as well as their potential to develop the skills that will be needed in the near (and distant) future. A full Talent Lifecycle Management approach can help.

Unlike traditional talent acquisition strategies that focus on roles, this one emphasizes the idea of deconstructing roles and jobs, and focuses on the skills that are needed to do the actual work. That’s an important distinction because skills and responsibilities related to a job title can vary greatly from business to business. For example, responsibilities for a Vice President at a startup look very different from responsibilities for a Vice President at a large enterprise.

Focusing on skills can provide a more realistic picture not only of workers’ proficiency and expertise, but also of their aptitude to grow and develop needed digital competencies.

Feeding data into a centralized talent CRM system is key. You want a single source of truth for all talent-related data across the company. Only then can you truly find connections between millions of data points.

Explainable AI plays an important role in Talent Lifecycle Management. Employing AI can help talent teams quickly find internal candidates who are ripe for skills development — and even help create personalized professional development plans. That’s because AI is able to infer connections between previous positions and responsibilities and needed ones (even if they’re named differently).

As we shared in an earlier blog, “One immediate impact of the evolution toward skills-based talent management is the ability to look at talent as individuals with a living, evolving set of skills with dynamic levels of proficiency, as opposed to static collections of requirements that fit an existing open role.”

That’s critical in the telecom industry. As the industry continues to evolve and needs for new digital skills develop, it’s crucial that telecom business leaders are able to identify what skills they already have internally, and can identify which employees are the best candidates to upskill and reskill to help fill those gaps. Beamery helps telecoms and other large enterprises attract, hire, engage and retain today’s top talent.

Learn more about how Beamery can help your organization build a skills-first Talent Lifecycle Management approach.