Telecommunications companies are facing a number of hiring challenges. In addition to the challenges posed by economic upheaval, telecoms also face technological disruption within their own industry, which is placing emphasis on new skill sets while quickly rendering others obsolete.
Tech hiring is a hot topic nationwide, both for companies that need workers with technological skills and hiring managers who struggle to find those skills. “The arms race in recruiting and retaining tech talent undoubtedly challenges employers in direct and indirect ways,” says Tim Herbert, chief research officer at Computing Technology Industry Association.
To meet the telecommunications industry’s upcoming challenges, hiring managers and human resources leaders will need to rethink their approach to hiring.
Shifting Skill Demands Make Hiring For Telecommunications Tougher
Today’s top skills in telecom work won’t be the most needed skills tomorrow. In fact, several key skills are already in decline while new ones are on the rise, according to an analysis of Eightfold’s Talent Intelligence on telecom workers.
The most in-demand skills tend to fall into one of three categories, according to Alexander DiLeonardo and fellow researchers at McKinsey. These include:
- Digital and analytics skills, including both hardware and software skills.
- Specialty domain expertise on particular topics and areas, such as 5G.
- Cross-functional management support for skills essential to leadership, project management, and effective hiring and retention.
Which skills will be in demand in the coming months and years? Making accurate predictions is essential to finding the right workers, but it’s also a daunting task for human resources and hiring teams that still rely on traditional methods of finding candidates. In one survey, 85 percent of talent acquisition leaders said that forecasting future talent needs poses difficulties for them, write Nikki Edwards and John Willmott of global analyst firm NelsonHall.
Eightfold addressed this problem by analyzing approximately 500,000 profiles from workers throughout the telecom industry. The analysis found that several skills once considered essential cornerstones of key telecom roles are starting to fade from importance. For instance, emphasis on sales management, VoIP, IP protocols, and using Microsoft Office is currently in decline. Meanwhile, skills in customer experience, LTE, and 5G are increasing in demand.
To stay on top of shifting skill demands, human resources leaders and hiring managers will need access to data that covers the telecom industry and focuses on how workers’ skill sets shift and change over time in response to innovations, regulations, and other changing demands within the telecommunications industry itself.
It’s a Candidate’s Market
For telecoms, several technological and digital skills are becoming essential to continued growth and innovation. Yet finding those skills can be tough, because the workers who have them are in short supply.
Telecom companies face the challenge of finding digitally skilled workers at the same moment those workers have a wealth of job opportunities across dozens of industries. “Workers in digital roles emerged from the COVID crisis relatively unscathed and are now entering an overheated talent market with many options,” says Boston Consulting Group associate director of people strategy Orsolya Kovács-Ondrejkovic.
The good news is that many workers with existing tech and digital skills are willing to stay in the field, even as they look for new job opportunities. According to a study by BCG, while 73 percent of workers in digital roles are planning to switch jobs within the next three years, most plan to continue working with technology.
Meanwhile, many workers who don’t currently focus on digital technologies are nevertheless interested in becoming tech workers if they can develop the right skills. While most advanced digital skills workers want to stay in their field, “far more nondigital workers would reskill if they could land a job in IT, automation, analytics, or digitalization,” write Rainer Strack and fellow researchers at BCG.
How can telecoms sort among their options and find workers who offer a long-term benefit to the company? The answer lies in focusing on skills.
Upskill and Reskill to Support Hiring For Telecommunications
Many telecoms are addressing skills gaps by seeking new workers with the needed skills. Eightfold’s analysis reveals that many existing telecommunications workers already have adjacent skills, however, and these workers are positioned to learn new skill sets and grow into in-demand jobs.
For example, telecom workers in customer service are likely to see demand for skills in store management, call center services, and inventory control decrease in the coming years. Yet demand for abilities in closely related skills like customer engagement and experience are likely to increase.
Some telecoms have already embraced the upskilling and reskilling challenge. Telefónica SA, for instance, recently embraced reskilling in order to address skills gaps in security, robotization, analytics, and other areas. The company recently launched a plan to teach its existing workers adjacent skills through the next five years.
“To succeed in the future, we must invest in our workforce to ensure they have the skills we will need in the new world of work,” says Gabriel de Diego, HR strategy and transformation director at Telefónica.
AI-enabled tools can help HR leaders identify adjacent skills and the workers who have them. Workers can then be offered upskilling and reskilling opportunities that draw on their existing knowledge base and cultivate their existing abilities.
New Tools Allow Telecoms to Transform Hiring
While hiring for tech roles will remain a major concern for telecoms in the coming years, technology can also make the hiring process easier. Skills-based analysis, career mapping, remote work and other AI-driven tools can help telecommunications companies find and keep the right people.
Career Mapping Helps Identify and Keep Skilled Talent
One way artificial intelligence improves the ability to find and keep skilled talent is through the use of predictive analytics in career mapping.
Predictive analytics spots patterns in large data sets and uses these patterns to suggest possibilities that might not otherwise have occurred to hiring managers, leadership, or job candidates. For example, a predictive analytics driven career map can examine a worker’s existing skills and suggest new learning opportunities and potential roles.
Career mapping is a must for organizations seeking to grow in a fast-changing world, says Joe Atkinson, vice chair, chief products and technology officer at PwC. “Employers have to step in and provide pathways for people to grow the kinds of skills that are relevant today,” even if those skills differ from the ones a worker cultivated at the start of their career, says Atkinson.
Remote Work Makes the Hiring Pool Larger
A robust infrastructure for remote work, driven by the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, offers new ways to think about hiring and retaining talent as well.
Remote work posed challenges for telecoms and other companies during the pandemic, and it continues to play a role in changing how candidates think about and apply to jobs. Remote work is a factor in some companies’ struggles to find IT talent, especially workers with skills in cloud and edge computing, says Yinuo Geng, research vice president at Gartner.
Yet remote work offers opportunities as well. “We are no longer tied to the metropolitan areas that are often associated with technology industries,” says human capital specialist Mark Concannon. Rather, telecoms can use remote work tools, virtual reality learning, and other technologies to expand their search for talent. They can focus on skills in order to build stronger teams equipped to face the challenges of the coming years.
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