“We need to build skills, not walls.” – Telstra Boss

The need for Australian companies to source ICT talent from overseas is stronger than ever, with the local pipeline continuing to fall short.

That was the message from Telstra CEO Andy Penn, who delivered a strongly-worded address at the Committee for Economic Development Australia in Melbourne on Wednesday.

andy penn

“We need to build new skills and capabilities in new areas,” he said.

“We need these capabilities now, but the fact is we cannot find in Australia enough of the skills that we need on the scale that we need them, such as software engineers.

“Why? There simply are not enough of them. The pipeline is too small.”

In anticipation of the impending local ICT talent shortfall – which Penn said he expects to be 60,000 skilled workers short in the next five years – Telstra will this year open a new ‘Innovation and Capability Centre’ in Bangalore, India.

Labelling Bangalore as “India’s ‘Silicon Valley’”, Penn said the move would consolidate Telstra’s presence in India, where it has been operating since 2011.

Immigration negativity

Penn also called for a cease to the “negative commentary around immigration”.

“We need to build skills, not walls.”

He pointed to the associated benefits that come with “a well-targeted skilled migration policy”, arguing this would create – not take away – jobs.

“Skilled migrants also add to Australia’s wealth,” he explained.

“Research by the International Monetary Fund estimated Australia’s migration program would add up to 1% 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.”

Author: Stephen Manallack

Former President, Australia India Business Council, Victoria and Author, You Can Communicate; Riding the Elephant; Soft Skills for a Flat World (published by Tata McGraw-Hill INDIA); Communicating Your Personal Brand. Director, EastWest Academy Pty Ltd and Trainer/Speaker/Mentor in Leadership, Communication and Cross Cultural Communication. Passionate campaigner for closer western relations with India. Stephen Manallack is a specialist on “Doing Business with India” and advisor/trainer on “Cross-Cultural Understanding”. He is a Director of EastWest Academy Pty Ltd which provides strategic advice and counsel regarding business relations with India. A regular speaker in India on leadership and global communication, his most recent speaking tour included a speech to students of the elite Indian university, Amity University, in Noida. He also spoke at a major Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) global summit, the PR Consultants Association of India in Delhi, the Symbiosis University in Pune and Cross-Cultural Training for Sundaram Business Services in Chennai. He has visited India on business missions on 10 occasions and led three major trade missions there. He provides cross-cultural training – Asia and the west.

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