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Acquiring and developing a future-proof workforce for 5G

Workforce Planning August 20, 2021

Acquiring and developing a future-proof workforce for 5G


  • 5G will create 22.3 million jobs globally., 4 million jobs in USA while Europe will add 2.3 million jobs.
  • Cities including San-Francisco, Seattle, and New York City currently hold the largest 5G talent base.
  • Demand and cost of 5G talent will rise as industries other than telecom seek similar talent for use cases.
  • HR professionals are struggling to fill 5G roles in their organisations as a result of a sizable skills gap and a developing 5G talent ecosystem.

Download the full report to identify niche 5G skills, emerging job roles, talent acquisition and reskilling strategies to meet the surging talent demand.

“The global 5G services market is projected to be worth USD 249.2 Bn in 2026, at a CAGR of 29.4%, while the global 5G infrastructure market is expected to be worth USD 47.7 Bn at a CAGR of 67.1% in the same time.”

With the incremental growth of 5G services globally, demand for 5G talent across all domains is expected to rise drastically in upcoming years. 5G’s full-fledged arrival in telecom will dominate every other communications tech and enable customers to experience:

  • Extremely low latency
  • Lower energy usage
  • Improved battery life for devices
  • Maximum network coverage
  • More reliability
  • Faster speeds

It is evident that much work has to take place to deliver such features, and it requires talent skilled in allied technologies. Hence, the demand for 5G talent will experience a boost in the coming decade.

5G Job Market: An Overview

Since 5G is a promising technology that can revolutionize the way we connect, the total jobs for 5G talent will multiply incrementally.

Over 22.3 Mn jobs will be generated in the 5G global value chain, with 4 Mn in the US alone and 2.3 Mn either generated or transformed in Europe. India also has a decent part in it and will experience a rise in 5G talent demand by up to 20% by Q42021.

Thus, specific 5G job roles have already become critical for Telecom firms due to the ongoing 5G trials in developing markets and the increased deployment pace in developed markets.

A concise list of those job roles include:

  • Software solutions architect
  • Software design engineer
  • Embedded systems engineer
  • Radio SDE
  • Virtualization-cloud engineer (Further analyzed for reskilling)
  • Mobile core network engineer (Further analyzed for hiring)
  • SW systems engineer
  • Packet core engineer

However, due to a vast skills gap and a fledgling 5G talent ecosystem, HR leaders are struggling to meet the demand surge for their organizations.

Addressing the Skills Gap

Whenever a technological shift takes place, the talent for such a shift also transforms with it. However, with 5G, the transformation has to be rapid as telecom firms move faster to win market share and lead the market before others.

The significant gap when comparing the transition from 3G to 4G and 4G to 5G is primarily because of the new framework and technology stack being utilized by 5G.

For instance, the transition from 3G to 4G did not require a highly skilled workforce since both technologies had similar frameworks and technology stacks.

 Skills Gap

When moving from 4G to 5G, the need for highly skilled talent has multiplied. 5G requires talent with niche skills suited to the new tech stack and framework.

With such requirements, it is understandable that the talent pool for 5G is limited. Thus, targeted hiring has become the need of the hour. Global HR leaders are now trying to devise targeted hiring strategies to acquire niche talent from a limited talent pool.

Targeted Hiring is the Answer

With articles, news reports, and social media popularising 5G, it seems like 5G is here. Nevertheless, the reality is far from this. 5G is still emerging, and a majority of telecom talent does not have the skill sets needed to jump into the 5G space.

Even in the early development and deployment process, there is a visible talent shortage, and HR leaders are worried about what will happen in the near future. To utilize a sophisticated technology like 5G, a niche-talent pool is needed.

Hence, HR leaders are considering targeted hiring. To pick the most suitable talent from a talent pool this small, they need specific strategies in place; otherwise, they will lose out on good talent.

HR leaders can move forward with targeted hiring through a simple data-backed process :

  • Understanding the 5G job taxonomy – HR leaders need to possess deep knowledge about emerging roles and skillsets needed to drive the 5G transformation.
  • Understanding geographical nuances – A thorough geographical analysis will be needed to identify which MSA has a talent base for a specific role.
  • Analyzing talent compensation – Due to limited availability, compensation is a driving factor in filling specific job roles. A correct compensation analysis has to come into existence that matches industry standards.
  • In-depth talent ecosystem analysis – Performing an in-depth analysis of top MSA’s to understand talent and peer ecosystem in that location will be the final step in targeting.

Once this process is complete, the other usual processes of recruitment come into the picture. The real challenge today is not to recruit a candidate but to find one worth recruiting, considering their skillsets and goals.

However, with such a limited talent pool, spending time finding new talent is not to be recommended. In time of a crisis, It is always better to look within than to look around.

This can be done through reskilling the existing talent and developing new roles in-house.

Reskilling is widely known to develop a talent pool that is hard to acquire. Reskilling also actually results in saving acquisition costs and growing a talented workforce.

Case Study: Reskilling for Virtualization/Cloud solution engineer

The commercialization of 5G will cause an unprecedented disruption in the existing Telecom Talent and massive demand for 5G skills. Reskilling existing talent with traditional skills will become inevitable for Telecom companies to meet the sudden demand surge for 5G job roles.

For example, to develop a 5G virtualization/cloud solution engineer in-house, the transition has to take place from a network engineer to a cloud solution engineer.

This transition has to go through a reskilling process that includes identifying:

  • Skills needed for the new role
  • The skills gap between the new and previous role
  • Feasibility of transitions based on relevant reskilling parameters
  • Suitable learning module to facilitate reskilling and bridge the skills gap.

To facilitate this transition, it is essential to identify each element in the list given above and prepare a reskilling path.

Let us try preparing a reskilling path from a network engineer to a new-age virtualization/cloud solution engineer.

Reskilling for Virtualization

In a timeframe of 4 months, a network engineer would be transformed into a Virtualization/cloud solution engineer with a custom reskilling path discussed above.

With further commercialization and market penetration, 5G is expected to heavily disrupt the existing skills of the Telecom workforce across all experience levels very shortly.

Reskilling is the need of the hour, especially in the telecom industry, which is staring at an exponential talent gap in developing and deploying 5G.

Enterprises that choose to move with targeted hiring and custom reskilling would be less likely to face a talent shortage in the coming future.

Draup is an AI-powered talent intelligence platform that delivers HR leaders with data-backed insights into the global talent pool, cost modeling, and reskilling pathways suitable to manage talent faster and drive company-wide reskilling initiatives or hire quality talent.

Lead the future with talent intelligence. Get in touch with us today.