NBN Co seeks training providers

NBN Co has called for expressions of interest from registered training providers to equip NBN workers with the necessary skills to build the network

The company charged with the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) has called for applications of interest from registered training providers to build the skills of those constructing the network.

The training is pegged to commence in the second half of 2012 to ensure there are sufficient skilled workers are in place for the full scale rollout of the network, to begin in 2014.

NBN Co head of corporate services, Kevin Brown, said the skills required for the NBN will range from network engineers to manual labourers, meaning qualifications will vary, but “expressed confidence” that a substantial proportion of the total workforce would be sourced locally.

“A key difference between the NBN’s job requirements and those created by the mining boom is that the work of NBN Co is dispersed right across the country,” Brown said in a statement. “It will provide real opportunities for local employment, not least among the 8000 to 9000 semi-skilled workers – some 50 per cent of the total anticipated NBN workforce – who we expect can be trained in a timeframe of fewer than three months.

“For instance, around half the workforce will be labourers, earthmoving plant operators and road traffic controllers who will require safety training, construction industry certification, as well as some additional training on the specific tasks to be performed.”

“A further third are likely to be telecommunications lines workers deploying the network in the streets, who may require between four and 24-months training depending on their existing skills, and cablers at the premises who may need between two weeks and 18 months training, depending on their current skills.”

The call for training providers follows the region-by-region analysis conducted by NBN Co to determine the supply and demand for construction skills and industry-recognised training.

Brown credited the company’s recent $11 billion agreement with Telstra for the lease of the telco’s infrastructure including dark fibre, exchange space and ducts for a minimum of 35 years]] with providing clarity to workforce planning activity.

Fellow Aussie telco Optus, a subsidiary of Singtel (ASX: SGT), also reached an $800m agreement with the NBN Co for the four-year migration of its hybrid coaxial cable (HFC) customers to the NBN to commence in 2014.

The agreement will involve steady payments to Optus for its migrating customers to the NBN as and when the service becomes available in areas currently serviced by Optus’ HFC service.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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