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Rapidly reskill 1,000+ Telstra employees in data capability across six countries? Challenge accepted.
Telstra is no stranger to innovation. Australia's largest telecommunications company stays ahead of others because it continually diversifies. Recently, Telstra recognised a substantial market opportunity to transform from a pure telecommunications company to one that could help customers with a range of technology services, including the gathering and analysis of data.
Telstra knows data is everywhere. Our everyday customer interactions, financial transactions, online behaviours and more are collected. Organisations have more data than ever, but few know how to record it, measure it and use it well.
The growing awareness and gathering of data is an incredible tool for businesses to better understand how the market engages with them. The challenge for Telstra, and others, is having the people power to both process and analyse these oceans of data in meaningful ways. And there’s a substantial skills shortage in this area. One day in July 2021 we searched a popular jobs website and found 30,570 jobs requiring expertise in data.
Telstra recognised that helping its customers with data analysis would be a crucial new market opportunity. The problem? It didn’t currently have this capacity. It needed a skills uplift to do so. And quickly.
More than 1,000 Telstra team members, located in Australia and around the world, needed to be rapidly reskilled. It needed to uplift its people with specific and measurable expertise.
Telstra acknowledged that to build these specialist skills it needed to partner with a university. This would ensure the team acquired strong foundational knowledge and best practice in specialist fields. It also wanted reassurance that the skills uplift would translate into day-to-day operations with tangible impact.
Academics from UTS Faculty of Engineering and IT worked closely with Telstra to identify and understand their specific needs. Collaboration over several months resulted in a range of intensive short courses developed for Telstra employees in data analytics, data engineering and machine learning. Upskilling courses for non-technical employees were also included, like data literacy fundamentals.
Telstra team members engaged in a rapid rollout of eight-week data upskilling courses co-designed by Telstra and UTS. Courses focused on enhance learning, combining weekly virtual face-to-face tutorials with live Q & A sessions to support interactive self-paced learning.
Course content was tied to not just the Telstra context but broadened to incorporate a range of topic areas, ensuring that the skills acquired could be applied over a variety of platforms and client needs.
These courses were – and continue to be – offered simultaneously to the general public, facilitating peer-to-peer learning for both Telstra team members and the others, across multiple industries and sectors.
The new skills obtained by Telstra team members are now being applied everyday as part of the organisation’s expanded offerings. This was achieved by simultaneously teaching groups of participants in multiple countries with speed and measurable skill uplift. Successful completion of these data courses entitle participants to a UTS microcredential.
Alex Badenoch, Telstra's Group Executive for Transformation, Communications and People, says the initiative is making a difference. “Our partnership with UTS is one example of how business and education providers can collaborate to develop the technology skills Australia needs”.
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