Telstra to open centre in India to fill IT talent gaps
Telstra is being forced to look overseas for qualified talent due to a shortage of skilled roles in Australia, according to CEO Andy Penn. But his comments have drawn condemnation from the Communications Workers Union (CWU).
As part of its Telstra 2022 strategy, the company is looking to create 1500 new roles in areas including software engineering, data analytics and cybersecurity.
During a presentation at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Penn said Telstra is currently by necessity sourcing far more of these from outside Australia than within, due to a shortage of available talent domestically.
“We need these capabilities now, but the fact is we cannot find in Australia enough of the skills that we need on the scale that we need them, such as software engineers. Why? There simply are not enough of them. The pipeline is too small,” Penn said.
“We are also competing for these skills domestically with other Australian organisations ... That competition is fierce and it is estimated Australia will have a shortfall of 60,000 skilled workers in the ICT sector in the next five years.”
He said Telstra plans to open a new Innovation and Capability Centre in Bangalore later this year to fill the gaps in demand.
This centre will bring in-house talent that has been previously outsourced, and will serve as a pipeline for bringing this talent back to Australia.
Penn noted that in the last 12 months, Australia had around 1200 new software engineers, compared to 44,000 in India.
He also urged the government to continue supporting policies that support a well-targeted skilled migration policy, and to encourage the development of a shared vision for preparing Australia for the future of work.
Meanwhile Penn said Telstra is involved in some initiatives aimed at growing the skills base in Australia, such as partnership programs with Australian universities offering internships and other development opportunities.
But Penn’s comments have drawn scathing remarks from the CWU, with National President Shane Murphy pointing out that the company is in the midst of cutting 8000 jobs in the largest job purge in Australian history.
“Within the ranks of the 8000 jobs he’s cutting, there would be plenty of candidates that could be retrained or upskilled to fill the so-called ‘skills gaps’ that Andy Penn is claiming Australians have,” Murphy said.
“Of course industries change over time, but a smart CEO looks to the future and upskills the workforce in order to meet those changes. It seems Andy Penn doesn’t have the foresight required to run our once iconic telco. This is another example of the Telstra CEO’s disrespect for the workforce. He’s putting 8000 people out of a job and at the same time complaining that he can’t find any workers. This man is the definition of a man out of touch with reality.”
He said Penn’s comments serve as another example of his complete disrespect for Telstra’s workforce.
“Telstra is being driven into the ground by Andy Penn, and customers and the workforce are being forced to bear the brunt of it.”
Penn did acknowledge the 8000 job cuts in his address to CEDA. But he framed them as an inevitable consequence of Telstra being replaced by NBN Co as Australia’s main wholesale telecommunications service provider, which he said is expected to result in the operator losing between a third and half of its revenue.
“You cannot take away a material part of a company’s business and earnings and expect it to carry on with the same strategy and the same workforce,” he asserted.
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