Telstra to open staff hub in India
TELSTRA will open a new staff hub in India, saying it is unable to recruit workers with the necessary technical skills in Australia.
The nation's biggest telecommunications company has also blamed its move to slash 9500 jobs - more than a quarter of its workforce - on the development of the federal government's National Broadband Network.
Chief executive Andy Penn said today that it was unrealistic to expect Telstra to maintain its workforce given the NBN renationalised Australia's fixed broadband network, pushing the telco out as the wholesale provider.
"The impact of this on Telstra is profound - it means we lose between one third and half of our earnings," Mr Penn said at an event hosted in Melbourne by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.
"You cannot take away a material part of a company's business and earnings and expect it to carry on with the same strategy and the same workforce.
"It is hardly surprising therefore that at Telstra we are reducing our workforce."
Although the struggling telco is slashing jobs, Mr Penn pointed out NBN Co directly employed 7000 workers and supported 24,000 field contractors, many of them former Telstra employees.
Mr Penn revealed the telco will build a new "Telstra Innovation and Capability Centre" in India's Silicon Valley, Bangalore.
The centre, which will work on areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and networks, will be up and running by the end of the year.
It will initially employ 300 people but there are plans to grow it beyond this.
Mr Penn said Telstra was setting up operations offshore as it could not find enough qualified workers as it rolls out a deep restructure that includes splitting its infrastructure and consumer businesses, selling assets and simplifying all customer mobile and home-internet plans.
"We need to build new skills and capabilities in new areas for the future," he said.
"We need these capabilities now, but the fact is we cannot find in Australia enough of the skills, like software engineers, that we need on the scale that we need them.
"Why? There simply are not enough of them. The pipeline is too small."
Australia was facing a shortfall of 60,000 workers in the information and communications technology sector in the next five years, Mr Penn said.
"That means we are having to recruit some of those capabilities on the global market, including in places like India," he said.
While immigration could be a "vexed issue", Mr Penn said allowing companies to bring in workers to plug skills gaps created more jobs for everyone.
"We need to build skills not walls," he said.
"An ongoing skilled migration policy is essential for Australia and essential for Telstra."
Telstra was partnering with universities to ensure a supply of graduates with in-demand skills such as software-defined networking and machine learning, Mr Penn said.
The telco will take a set number of graduates each year.
Community and Public Sector Union assistant national secretary Michael Tull said Telstra's latest announcement marked another betrayal of its workers, customers and the wider community.
"Telstra's past history suggests this is more about maximising profits than skills availability," Mr Tull told Business Daily.
"For more than a decade Telstra has shipped jobs to low wage countries even when the skills are available in Australia."
Telstra shares closed steady today at $3.19.