UKTIN is creating a better environment for telecoms innovation in the UK, and helping to fuel wider economic growth, across all regions and devolved nations. To do that, we must ensure we have the right skills and expertise to plug existing skills gaps and capitalise on emerging opportunities.
UKTIN Talent – led by WM5G – aims to do just that, with a national programme of activity designed to raise awareness and encourage individuals – whether they be education leavers, career returners or switchers- to consider the potential of a career in the telecoms sector.
To help shape and deliver this programme the UKTIN Talent Advisory Group has been established, to provide a forum for collaboration and action among individuals and organisations within the telecoms sector from all regions of the UK. Critically, the Group is not just made up of industry representatives, but also those from education and training providers, enabling robust and meaningful discussions around the root of the challenges faced and how they can be addressed.
On the 7th of June, WM5G hosted the first meeting of the Advisory Group. You can read an overview below. The slides from the meeting can be found here.
The advisory group’s objectives
- Address market failures and convene stakeholders
- Create employment and training opportunities
- Ensure that citizens, especially those facing barriers to employment, underrepresented or located in deprived areas, have an increased awareness of the opportunities to gain training relevant to, and employment within, the telecoms sector
- Support educational attainment including training schemes that address skills gaps and result in recognised qualifications
Why does this matter?
- Ageing workforce: 59% of telecoms engineers are over 50
- The struggle to find new talent: 5% of telecoms engineers are under 35
- Lack of diversity: 3% of telecoms engineers are women
Speaking at the event, Peter Marshall, Marketing Manager at Ericsson, emphasised the criticality of promoting careers in the telecoms sector: “At Ericsson, we want to accelerate but we need that level of knowledge to be there within the team. We also need diversity as well. It is one aspect of the telecoms industry that we are pushing hard. As for STEM, it is so important for school children; we need to ensure development and focus heavily on the particular skill set. Creative mindsets, however, are also becoming increasingly important in technology. With 6G and our hyperconnected world, it is not a binary exercise any longer. A technical and structured mindset paired with a more creative, liberal outlook is really important for companies such as Ericsson.”
Why is it difficult to attract and retain the talent we need?
- The industry faces stiff competition from other digital sectors both in the UK and abroad, which has created a highly competitive job market, exacerbating the existing skills shortage
- There is a perception that the industry is not as exciting or innovative as other sectors, with a very limited understanding of what a career in telecoms entails
- High academic entry levels to the industry can provide significant barriers, and in many cases may not reflect the reality of the requirements
- Female or BAME individuals and those from socially deprived areas often struggle to see themselves in the sector today – creating a false perception that telecoms might not be “for them”.
- UKTIN has undertaken an ecosystem review to understand the challenges facing the sector now and in the future
- Undertaken a review of skills, workforce and employment barriers
- Conducted interviews with over 50 key stakeholders in or involved in the sector
These activities have informed plans for the Talent programme. Significantly they have also identified that there is much useful work already being done in this space. But awareness of such activity can be fragmented – creating potential for duplication of effort and reduced impact. Part of UKTIN’s remit therefore will be to tackle this fragmentation, providing a platform where different work programmes can be bought together to create a more meaningful whole.
Charlotte Goodwill, representing The Institute of Telecoms Professionals,
And currently working to develop a telecoms career framework, echoed the importance of these actions: “We are very aware of the major issue of the ageing workforce and the need for skills becoming increasingly urgent. The main focus should be on the skills gap and challenging the expectations of employers, encouraging them to remove barriers to people entering the industry and to start recruiting based on personality and interest. We can train people with the skills, rather than constantly being at war for talent. Our apprenticeship opportunities, for example, have been very successful.”
- The initial focus is to raise the profile and drive consideration of telecoms as a viable career option and to promote diversity in the sector – focusing on education leavers, career advisors, career returners and career switchers – members were invited to work with UKTIN to co-design and co-deliver a programme of activity to support this.
- The UKTIN team will be attending a range of 3rd party career fairs and skills events at regional and national levels – this work has already begun and has delivered invaluable insights
- Create and promote accessible information on career pathways
Above all, there was a potent rallying cry from across the event: a recognition of the need and a commitment to work together to tackle the skills and talent pipeline for UK telecoms.
Keen to get involved or want to find out more? Email email@example.com.