April 26, 2022

3 Key Insights: Transformation in Telecommunications Talent

The battle for talent is raging across industries, roles, and sectors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Telecommunications companies find that they’ve been hit especially hard, as the skills the work requires aren’t readily identifiable through traditional means of finding and hiring talent.

Talent “has become a far more difficult resource to acquire and retain” than other forms of capital, write Alexander DiLeonardo and fellow researchers at McKinsey. It’s even harder when outdated hiring methods don’t focus on skills and capacity for career-long learning.

Taking a deep dive into its Talent Intelligence Platform, Eightfold analyzed approximately 500,000 publicly available profiles of professionals in top telecommunications companies. Three key takeaways from the report highlight the need to focus on skills-based hiring in the telecom industry.

Today’s Top Roles and Skills Are Changing

Currently, telecommunications companies rely heavily on customer-facing staff members, such as those working in retail, customer service, and call center settings. Our analysis found that about 45 percent of all telecommunications workers have customer-facing roles. Another 30 percent staff technical departments, filling roles in project management, software development, IT, and analytics. Fifteen percent work on designing, implementing, and maintaining networks, while the remaining 10 percent focus on administration and support.

Yet this balance is changing.

Among the most prevalent network engineering and operations roles, for instance, one-third are declining in priority. Many of these are technician roles. The skill mix is changing quickly among commercial networking and engineering workers, with some skills becoming obsolete and new skills rising in demand. Automation, emerging technologies, and new business models are having a profound impact on the most in-demand skills in telecommunication jobs.

yellow butterfly on a pink flower; Telecommunications Talent concept

Innovation Is Increasing the Need for New Skills and Capabilities

New technologies are changing the work of the telecommunications industry. Advances like 5G, edge computing, artificial intelligence, SDNs and SASE, and open RAN are creating space for innovation. Telecoms are responding, developing new offerings and capabilities that are likely to continue evolving for many years to come.

Yet this innovation is also placing pressure on telecoms to find workers with new, adaptable sets of skills and capabilities. Technical staff aren’t the only ones who will need to learn new skills and grow in the coming years. Skills like sales management, budgeting, and even using Microsoft Office, once deemed essential to telecom work, are all in decline. Meanwhile, abilities like managing social media, cloud computing expertise, and data analysis are all seeing higher demand.

Telecommunications companies have a small window of opportunity to address their hiring approaches before they lose the ability to shift to methods that pinpoint the skills their company will need in the coming years.

a mechanical arm and a butterfly; Telecommunications Talent concept

The Tools Exist to Help Telecoms Find the Right Talent

While telecommunications companies may be struggling to find the right skills and capabilities with their previous methods of seeking talent, they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Digital tools and technologies exist to help hiring managers focus on essential skills and hire workers with the potential to keep learning in their jobs.

Take 5G as an example. The emergence of 5G technology has placed pressure on telecoms to find workers with skills in LTE, 5G, and edge computing. At the same time, moving to 5G tech has decreased the importance of skills in other areas, like CDMA and UMTS. According to our analysis, telecommunications companies have only one to two years to change their hiring focus accordingly, or they will find themselves attracting talent that lacks the skills they need while overlooking workers with those essential skills.

Artificial intelligence can help telecom hiring managers solve this problem. By using tools that focus on skills and the relationships between different skill sets, hiring managers can better identify candidates who have both the skills and learning capacity their team will need to meet today’s challenges. Predictive analytics can help map candidates’ options within a company and highlight what they’ll need to learn in order to keep growing — and keep supporting the company’s growth as well.

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