NBN Co to train half of workers in 'months'

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NBN Co to train half of workers in 'months'

Workers rolling out the National Broadband Network will require as little as two weeks of training depending on their experience and qualification, with half of the total rollout workforce expected to be trained in under three months.

Although NBN Co expected to hire or contract up to 18,000 workers over the rollout period, the company today revealed that between 8000 and 9000 workers would receive under three months training in order to do their job.

Those workers would be "semi-skilled" labourers, earthmoving plant operators and road traffic controllers, according to NBN Co. They would be used during the full-scale of the rollout between 2014 and 2018.

Each of the up to 18,000 contracted workers would receive training based on current skills.
Experienced cablers were set to receive as little as two weeks training before beginning work; experienced lines workers would get a month's training at minimum, although lesser-skilled workers could qualify for 18 months and two years of training respectively.

The wholesaler expected to begin training from next year for those who require up to 24 months' education.

NBN Co said a "substantial proportion" of the 18,000 workers required would be sourced locally but did not clarify how many would come from overseas.

The job boom was expected to benefit communities nationwide.

"A key difference between the NBN's job requirements and those created by the mining boom is that the work of NBN Co is dispersed right across the country," Brown said.

NBN Co has continued an aggressive hiring drive started since its inception in mid-2009. It currently has about 700 full-time staff.

In May, NBN Co appointed a panel of 17 recruitment agencies to hire an additional 1000 workers over 12 months, covering all aspects of the company's operations.

The company told a Senate inquiry into the network in February that it expected to hire or contract between 16,000 and 18,000 workers to roll out the network at a peak rate of 6,000 homes a day.

However, the successful deal with Telstra sealed last month would mean less requirement than originally expected for certain types of skills.

"The agreement to lease Telstra's existing infrastructure will reduce overhead rollout and therefore the requirement for highly-skilled electrical linesworkers," the company said.

Full-time employees would be covered under one of four enterprise agreements established by the wholesaler, while the wages and working conditions of private contractors and subcontractors would be set by their direct employer.

Workers required to construct the NBN second stage release sites would likely be sourced by the contracted companies, with primary supplier Silcar stating it had the skills based required to construct the areas agreed to.

Silcar has exclusive rights under a $380 million, two-year contract to build 40 percent of the 19 second release sites, with a focus on Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT.

It was expected a further five construction firms would be signed by August to build sites in others states and double up with Silcar in major cities after the first year.

Acting head of construction Dan Fleming told iTnews in June that the company had made sure not to overcrowd particular areas with contractors to prevent suppliers from vying for a common skills base.

"In the first two years we're not intending to over-commit contractors in a particular region and have that competitive issue around the resource," he said.

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