The next-generation telecom network will drive growth across sectors, creating new opportunities and better job options in India
India successfully launched 5G in the country last year, becoming one of the 95 nations to achieve this feat. With ultra-low latency and high data speed, 5G is on its way to becoming an extremely reliable communication system, connecting every corner of rural and urban India and seamlessly transferring real-time information.
The launch of 5G has also amplified the demand for a wide array of skilled manpower to meet the nation’s deployment needs. Estimates by staffing firms indicate that 5G services in India will likely create a demand for up to 45,000 jobs by the end of this financial year. The mere anticipation of the 5G rollout has already resulted in 80,000 5G-related hirings in the calendar year 2022.
As per TSSC, India may require an estimated 22 million skilled workers possessing 5G-related competencies by 2025. It is also likely to generate direct and indirect job opportunities significantly, thereby opening new avenues for people and businesses with the potential to change the economic landscape of India. The hike in demand for 5G-related skills is not just limited to the telecom sector.
Unlike the pre-covid era, 5G will ensure greater access and a superior experience in the corporate world.
Various applications of 5G will also necessitate skill development and specialisation across diverse functional areas, including resources for sectors like education, healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, energy and utilities, retail, financial services, logistics and transportation, mining, automobile, media and entertainment, etc. In effect, 5G is expected to trigger societal transformation in India by strengthening the use of ICT across sectors and thereby propelling Industry 4.0 and value creation to the next level. As a result, India will witness a thrust in the economy, access to the international markets, and most importantly, new tech-focused job opportunities.
New jobs, newer opportunities
Hiring for job roles like networking engineers, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) experts, UX designers, cyber security specialists, cloud computing experts, and data science and data analytics experts are expected to see a 20% rise quarter-on-quarter, as per experts. Sensor-based crop monitoring, remote equipment control, energy management, surveillance and smart transportation are some other applications that might prove to be a game-changer with increased coverage and technology in India.
There will be a 20% rise in the hiring of networking engineers, AI/ML experts, UX designers, cybersecurity specialists, data scientists, and data analysts.
Major demand for these experts will come from Industry 4.0 and smart city use cases for the Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality (AR/VR), and AI that will be enabled by 5G. Currently, around 44% of 5G applications worldwide are found in the above segments. These 5G-induced job opportunities are likely to sustain over the next few quarters, with companies focusing on skilling and upgrading their workforce.
From the perspective of enhancing digital prowess, skills in areas such as secure network architecture design, AI/ML, Big Data analytics, programming, cloud computing, IoT, DevOps, automation and orchestration, open-source software, and electrical engineering fundamentals would be crucial to achieving a globally competitive position for India. A key resource requirement to emerge in 5G is also that of data science professionals.
Besides the technical aspects of network planning, deployments and operations, a radical increase in the use of coders, data analytics, data management, etc. will be needed for the next generation of networks. This will become vital as the AI and software would need real-time, rapid interpretation and use of data to translate into meaningful applications and interventions in the operational sphere. This will also open up the gates for a new breed of skilled professionals for assuming important roles and responsibilities at different levels, generating both employment opportunities as well as skill development initiatives.
The Department of Telecommunications will train over one lakh youth in 5G and allied technologies over the next three years with the support of industry bodies.
The rapid advancement in technology is also leading to an increase in demand for efficient and qualified Cybersecurity professionals, to safeguard the networks and applications of the future. Rising methods and incidences of cybercrimes and frauds make it imperative to build robust, scalable and continuously upgrading defence systems and mechanisms to curb this global menace. Cybersecurity and resilience would be crucial areas for skill development as well as rising employment opportunities in the coming year, not just for telecom, but the entire digital ecosystem in the country.
Facilitating multi-sector growth
The Department of Telecommunications exhorted the telecom industry to make all-out efforts to enhance and deepen the skilling initiatives that will meet the evolving needs of the sector. The government recently announced setting up a task force to develop highly skilled workers and designers in the telecom sector. A skilled workforce and their empowerment in the sector will surely serve as an effective and efficient facilitator for all other segments, given the use cases of 5G across industries. With the advent of new technology, skilled workers will be capable of accomplishing complex tasks and facilitating the longevity of the systems.
Unlike the pre-covid era, 5G will ensure greater access and a superior experience in the corporate world; be it entry-level candidates looking to equip themselves with technical skills or experienced ones aiming to upskill or reskill to remain relevant, there is a widespread reliance on digital learning. Smarter training rooms and classrooms at professional training institutions will enjoy increased bandwidth, reduced latency, and more robust support for the security framework. Using digital training and skill assessment, platforms will be able to deliver a highly immersive, convenient, and memorable experience for corporate trainees.
Since last year (2022), employee training evolved to a greater extent as the workplace has become digitally complex. With 5G, companies will have significant leverage as the technology will help build possible remote workplaces. Similarly, it can improve employees’ training experiences and allow them to learn new skill sets. The industry also needs to develop a pool of skilled labourers to accommodate 5G.
One of the best ways to do this is through internal education programmes. With optimum technical and managerial training, companies can update their employees to understand the new technology and give them the essential skills required to install it on a large-scale while being sensitive to the needs of each carrier.
The Union Budget 2023 also introduced some provisions which are expected to indirectly have a positive impact on the telecom sector. The budget emphasised on innovation, job creation and skilling, with a continued push towards Digital India. The announcement on setting up of three centres of excellence for AI and 100 labs in engineering colleges for the development of 5G applications will help in fueling the proliferation of the technology and its ecosystem in the country while augmenting the need and nurturing of skilled resources with expertise in these advanced technologies.
As has been evident in recent years, the telecom industry, which is the lifeline of the country, does not sit passively in the back seat of reforms but is rather progressing with zeal and intent, especially on the front of new technologies. The government has been highly progressive in its approach towards enabling the creation of a robust digital infrastructure and manufacturing ecosystem in the country, to expedite deployments and roll-out of pan-India services by the next year. Furthermore, the DoT will train over one lakh youth in 5G and allied technologies over the next three years with the support of industry bodies. With such initiatives, the industry will positively see India emerge as a digitally leading and economically inclusive nation shortly.
By Lt Gen Dr S P Kochhar
Lt Gen Dr Kochhar is the Director General of COAI