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Shortage in NBN apartment cablers: recruiter

Stephanie McDonald | May 2, 2013
A recruitment firm for the National Broadband Network (NBN) said there is a shortage of cablers to connect apartments to the network.

A recruitment firm for the National Broadband Network (NBN) said there is a shortage of cablers to connect apartments to the network.

Sean McCartan, general manager in NSW for Talent International, told Computerworld Australia the "major issue" with recruiting staff for connecting multi-dwelling units (MDUs) is that fibre-to-the-home connections for apartments is a relatively new process.

"[Thus] we tend to have a lot of difficulty finding those types of people. Other than the likes of Foxtel in Australia, there's very few companies that do that, so they're looking to up-skill people [with a] cabling background into new technology," he said.

"I believe in terms of the MDU specific roles, yes, [there is a shortage]."

McCartan said some roles with the NBN are taking slightly longer to fill at around four to six weeks, with the firm finding candidates from competitors.

"Some of those companies have canned projects or scaled back projects, which has freed up some people," said Richard Earl, managing director at Talent International.

"I guess it's common knowledge that certain providers have been losing customers and I guess when you lose customers, you lose revenue and you have to make adjustments."

McCartan said candidates are being sought who have experience in rolling out IPTV in Australia "because that would be the closest type of scale required for these roles".

Mike Quigley, CEO at NBN Co, has denied there are labour shortages with the NBN and said there are enough workers in the country to build the network.

NBN Co recently announced it would train and employ 80 extra fibre splicers to try and help recover a three-month delay.

Austin Blackburne, business director for recruitment firm Hays Construction in Victoria, warned it wouldn't be as easy as it sounds and said there was a shortage of fibre splicers, especially in Queensland, the north coast of NSW and NSW itself.

MDUs have been problematic for NBN Co. In October last year the company told a parliamentary hearing that it did not have a uniform strategy of connecting apartment buildings to the NBN and was still working it out.

NBN Co has now signed several contracts associated with connecting MDUs for project development services, which includes design and construction services.

Talent International was announced as a recruitment service supplier for telco and IT for the NBN in May 2011. Earl said employment demand for the NBN is now ramping up.

"Certainly [in] the last six months the demand has gone up and we think it might continue to do so," he said.

"From our point-of-view, in terms of the recruitment sector, I'd say it's doubled, even tripled in terms of demand. I think we're getting to the pointy end of the rollout."


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