Training the next generation of nbn technicians
In addition to the 24,000 external workforce and the 6000 internal employees we have across the nation, we also employ a 200-strong team of highly-skilled field technicians who conduct all the hands-on maintenance, repairs and upgrades needed on this vast network, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
These are the people directly employed by nbn who work around the clock to diagnose and fix any problem that might pop up in the network, whether that’s down a pit fixing a distribution point unit or up a telegraph pole maintaining cables – and they do it in the fastest time possible.
While that number might seem relatively low in the grand scheme of this network, we have plans to grow it over the next few years as rollout passes peak construction and starts shifting from build mode to operate mode.
We also employ a range of external technicians and civil works experts through our delivery partners who assist us in maintenance and civil works as well.
In order to keep this elite team at the top of their game, we have developed a program to build five, fit-for-purpose training facilities that replicate all the fixed-line access technologies found in our network.
These will be used to train newcomers to our internal workforce, provide refresher courses and educate trainees we have coming through our ranks.
We have already rolled out one training lab in the north-west of Sydney and plan to build another four in metro locations in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Victoria by the end of October.
Once complete, these fit-for-purpose training facilities will bring together every piece of fixed-line technology used in nbn’s broadband access network including Fibre-to-the-Premises, Fibre-to-the-Node, Fibre-to-the-Building, Fibre-to-the-Curb, Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC), transit and ethernet aggregation.
Establishing these training facilities has two main benefits for our business.
The first is to give our internal workforce exposure to the network equipment they will be working on in the field. This will not only give our internal workforce valuable hands-on experience with the various technologies of our network, but it will also provide a safe training environment where there is no risk to the live network or our existing customer base.
The second benefit is in the significant savings this will allow us to make once all the labs are up and running. By establishing our own training labs and technical classrooms, nbn will halve its annual spend on technical training.
Each training lab will be accompanied by a classroom where dedicated technical trainers and experienced nbn technicians will teach new employees how to maintain and operate network equipment in the field.
While our previous external training approach served the business adequately in the past, it is no longer cost-effective and does not provide our workforce with an end-to-end learning experience that deals with all equipment used by nbn.
We also expect that the move in-house will reduce typical training times for newly employed field technicians from the current three month timeframe to as little as one month.
The reduction in training time will come from nbn tailoring a training course that fits what we see in the field. By consolidating training in-house, we not only reduce our reliance on multiple vendor programs, but we will also able to teach our internal workforce how each piece of kit works with others pieces, regardless of what vendor it comes from.
Simply put, that means new employees will be able to work independently sooner and hit the ground running much quicker than they currently do.
We can’t wait to get our new labs up and running to help our technicians remain on top of their game and to ensure that end users connected to the nbn™ broadband access network receive the consistent and great experience they deserve.