NBN rollout needs 8000 additional telecommunications workers

IBSA Media release

Australia's National Broadband Network is facing a major shortfall of skilled workers, according to the Innovation & Business Skills Australia (IBSA 2010 Enviroment Scan.

The 2010 IBSA report into Australias Information and Communications Technologies Industries shows that Australia needs 8,000 more skilled telecommunications workers to implement the National Broadband Network.


One of the most acute deficits is in the area of skilled cablers, in an industry that is already facing increased demand. While Australia already has 61,183 registered cablers, the industry reports that this is 8,000 short of what is required. 

The shortfall in the necessary workers to roll out the NBN is one symptom of a shortfall of ICT workers across Australia’s industries. 

Industry respondents to IBSA’s Environment Scan survey indicated that 60% of Australia’s ICT industry faces difficulties finding applicants with the right mix and level of skills. 

Also among the report’s findings were:

  • Government demand through the NBN and digital TV switchover are causing exponential demand for skilled workers in telecommunications occupations. 
  • Telecommunications workers specifically in demand are cablers and fibre optical network engineers. 
  • Industry insiders were concerned that without proper licensing and registration there was a risk of incomplete, short term skilling to get the job done quickly. 
  • Demand for Information Technology occupations are expected to increase 25% in the year to 2011 and even more in the three years to 2013. 
  • Anticipated demand for technical writers is even greater to support high level technology developments including NBN. 

The ICT industry generated revenue of $85 million in 2008-9 and 88% of companies nationally use ICT services. 

Responses to the IBSA study indicated that industry is requesting a co-ordinated approach to supporting more up-skilling and training to roll out the National Broadband Network. 

The study also found that improving industry recognition and use of VET, funding more training places and assessing outcomes based on the skills needed for the job are essential in ensuring Australia’s NBN is rolled out effectively.

Kevin Fothergill, the Registrar of Cablers for the Telecommunications Industry Training Advisory Board reported to the Parliamentary Senate Select Committee inquiry into the National Broadband Network that a skilled cablers’ deficit was expected for the NBN roll out. 

For a copy of the report, please contact Adrian Dodd (Media) on 0401 726 476