The increasing demand for wireless connectivity is leading the industry to 5G – which promises to bring lighting fast download speeds and reduce latency to almost nothing. What would this allow?
A mature 5G network would deliver "enhanced power efficiency, cost optimization, massive IoT connection density, and resources based on awareness of content, user, and location. 5G will be able to concurrently support both low-end IoT applications (such as sensors and meters) as well as high-end IoT applications (such as autonomous driving cars and tactile Internet experiences).”
So what are we waiting for? The labor power to create the infrastructure and devices that will carry 5G around the world. The labor shortage in the telecommunications industry has reached an all-time high, and the latest research shows that it may get worse before it gets better.
The skills gap is widening, unemployment in the U.S. is at its lowest rate since 2000, and nearly 60% of employers struggle to fill job vacancies within 12 weeks. The number of new entrants into trade schools is down as more young people choose to attend four-year universities. At the same time, the Baby Boomer generation is aging out of the workforce and taking decades of experience and unique skillsets with them.
The lack of available skilled workers combined with the challenge of deploying 5G while maintaining aging wireless infrastructure and even expanding it into rural areas has placed a considerable strain on the wireless industry.
Talent management deserves as much focus as financial capital management in corporations. – Jack Welch
Handling the Demand
The demand for wireless connectivity, devices that support 5G and the small cell sites to deliver 5G is reaching a fevered pitch. As Energy Realpolitik relates, " Gartner has described the innovation to adoption process of IT as a 'hype cycle,' in which the peak of our inflated expectations is soon followed by a trough of disillusionment and an eventual plateau of productivity in which a technology becomes suitably mature. 5G, the Fifth Generation of mobile wireless technologies, is somewhere in the hype cycle."
If 5G is to move from "inflated expectations" to "suitably mature," the wireless construction must have the resources needed to develop new infrastructure.
Employability demands less on what you already know and more on how well you can learn, apply, and adapt. – Mara Swan
How Can Wireless Providers and Data Center Owners Cash In on the Hype?
This is where the challenge lies, while the technology to deliver on 5G exists, the labor-power to roll it out does not. Wireless construction teams struggle to find workers willing to accept the immense heights and extensive travel required by many employers.
To combat this downturn in available talent and prepare to meet the growing onslaught of demand, wireless construction teams are exploring unconventional recruitment processes that include supporting government programs that encourage students to join trades, hosting in-house training programs to bring new skills to their current workforce, and incentivizing apprenticeship programs.
In fact, Apprenticeship.gov, the Nation's official site for apprenticeship programs, lists telecommunication tower technicians, wireless technicians, telecommunications antenna and line, and fiber optic technicians as "high-demand apprenticeship occupations." The growing demand has resulted in a significant wage spike in these careers. Many apprenticeship participants are earning more income in less time than their peers who chose to attend a four-year university. As this trend continues, it is likely to bring more workers into the industry - an essential key to 5G success.
Building a robust recruitment network, one that relies on multiple streams of skilled workers, from trade schools, internal training programs, and traditional hiring programs, is the only way to prepare teams to deliver on the promises of 5G.