Recruiting and retaining top talent is the main challenge communications executives often cite, a hurdle growing in complexity as operators design and implement ultra-broadband networks with leading-edge technologies.
From software engineers to virtualization experts, big data analysts to automation professionals, providers are hiring specialists in multiple, integrated fields to help them leverage their ultra-broadband investments and generate new services, revenue streams and loyalty.
Efficiency, automation and improved operations will drive many operators' investments in 2017, wrote Craig Wiggington, US and Global Telecommunications sector leader at Deloitte. In addition, service providers need technologists proficient in integrating assets garnered via merger or acquisition, he said.
Because Orange Business -- which has about 8,000 "research and innovation" employees -- is heavily investing in software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), virtualization, security and software development are critical skills, Yves Bellego, director of spectrum strategy and planning at Orange, told UBB2020.
"The skillsets that are developing are related to security management and software. The latter to deliver the transformation of networks virtualization," he said. "Being active in research, standardization and network deployment, in Western, Eastern Europe and Africa, we can propose a large variety of job positions and evolution opportunities. As an example, someone can join Orange for a PhD and later contribute to a European research project, to worldwide standardization or evolve towards operational activities."
IP network engineers are vital to the ongoing success of DQE Communications, CEO Jim Morozzi told UBB2020. But it's also important that sales professionals understand the provider's services, the value it brings and how they're different from competitors, he said.
"They're a critical linchpin in trying to provide... [our] services to our customers going forward. Good, solid, quality project managers, project engineers, who can go get networks built, who can interact with customers and have them understand what they're going to need to do in order to be able to dig up a parking lot, put conduit in to put fiber into their building and work with property owners and all those kinds of things [are important]," Morozzi added. "We also need good sales people and I say that because we're not selling a product, it's a solution. It's helping that customer run their business. Connection to the Internet is critical today. Having solid data communications amongst 15 branch locations is absolutely necessary. Having a sales professional who can articulate that value proposition and do it properly is very important as well."
The industry already suffers a shortage of some specific skills, related to everything from deploying fiber to tech-focused, said Marty Rubin, president and CEO of Smart City in an interview. "We're going to realize we don't have a large enough workforce to get the job done -- there's a shortage of welders, network engineers," he said. "We need a greater emphasis on workplace education with more investment in community colleges. They’re prepared to give us the network engineers and welders we need but they're underfunded."
A quick skim of several operators' careers sections shows the plethora of openings and diverse needs related to ultra-broadband, fiber and interoperability.
Altice USA -- which begins rolling out its fiber-centric infrastructure across the nation this year -- has postings in 21 states. They include lead software engineer; senior programmer analyst; senior systems analyst and commercial insertion technician. (See Altice Exports Fiber First Strategy to US.)
On the Comcast careers page are listings for jobs such as data engineer, senior automation engineer, senior cloud engineer, director of network engineering and vice president of field operations. Finally, AT&T has multiple openings on its jobs site; they include network engineer, network architect and sales executive for fiber to the building.
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.