news Telstra has launched an internal recruitment programme aimed to fulfil workforce needs as the firm prepares to design and manage the upgrade of its former hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) cable TV network as part of the NBN roll-out.
Under a deal signed between the telco and NBN Co in April, Telstra is to carry out the design, some of the construction and all of the construction management of the work required to bring the NBN network to over three million homes currently in the footprint of Telstra’s HFC network.
Along with Optus’ HFC network, the copper-based technology will provide fast broadband for around 4 million of the 11.9 million premises that will be served by the NBN in total.
The use of upgraded HFC technology is part of the Coalition’s controversial ‘multi-technology mix’ policy aimed to deploy the network faster and art a lower cost than using optic fibre.
Critics have argued that using fibre to the premises would better ‘future proof’ the nation’s digital economy.
The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) spoke up on the newly announced recruitment drive, acknowledging that it “makes sense” for Telstra to drive and oversee the HFC upgrade necessary to deliver the speeds of 50Mbps (and beyond) that current policy on the NBN requires.
However, it warned that resourcing the contract will involve “rebuilding its pool of HFC skills” which the CWU believes has “shrunk significantly” in recent years.
The recruitment programme is currently aimed at network delivery staff and is seeking expressions of interest from employees with skill sets relevant to the HFC contract.
These, the CWU said, include design and/or field experience in controller area network (CAN) or HFC; project management; reporting and analytical skills; contract negotiation and/or management; construction project management and implementation skills.
The CWU also welcomed the fact that Telstra is seeking to bring its own staff onto the HFC project and the union further encouraged its members to apply for the future roles.
In addition to Telstra staff who already have relevant skills, others may be eligible for retraining under the $100 million NBN training deed between Telstra and the Commonwealth, the CWU added.
The union indicated it would expect these funds to be used “to maximise those opportunities for ongoing employment for our members which the HFC and other NBN-related contracts provide”.
Image credit: NBN company