Telstra’s chief executive has admitted most of the 1500 jobs created as part of his corporate restructure would be based overseas, rather than Australia.
The giant telco announced last June, as part of a new corporate strategy dubbed Telstra2020, that it would cut 9,500 positions while adding 1,500 new jobs in emerging areas like software engineering and cybersecurity.
But in a speech on Wednesday, chief Andy Penn said that most of the new jobs so far had gone offshore.
“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,” he said.
“Why? There simply are not enough of them. The pipeline is too small.”
The competition for skilled workers within Australia is “fierce”, he said, and in the next five years the country would be 60,000 workers short in the technology industry.
“That means we are having to recruit some of those capabilities on the global market, including in places like India.”
Penn revealed the company is doubling-down on overseas recruitment by opening an “Innovation and Capability Centre” in Bangalore, India later in the year.
“Bangalore is India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ and even there we are competing for talent with the likes of Apple, Google and other digital companies,” he said.
“[The new Innovation and Capability centre] means we can quickly hire, develop and scale that talent across our business.”
Don’t shut down immigration
With federal and NSW elections looming in the coming weeks, Penn also rallied against anti-immigration policies, saying a “well-targeted” skilled immigration program is “a job creator, not a job taker”.
“We need to build skills not walls,” he said.
“Immigration in Australia is an often vexed issue and attracts an enormous amount of political and media angst… I believe this is an unhealthy and potentially dangerous path for the world to take.”
The telco boss said Telstra supported any government policy that would “simplify and reduce administrative costs” in attracting talent to the country.
“Skilled migrants also add to Australia’s wealth,” he told the lunchtime crowd.
“Research by the International Monetary Fund estimated Australia’s migration program would add up to 1 per cent to annual average GDP growth from 2020 to 2050 because it focused on skilled migrants of working age and would limit the economic impact of Australia’s ageing population.”
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