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Govt, trade union, telecoms firm aim to solve skills shortage

Four thousand jobs in two years, they reckon

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The DTi, AEEU* and EXi Telecoms (that's the government, a trade union and a telecoms company) have set up a joint plan to tackle the skills shortage in the telecommunications industry and reckons it will create up to 4,000 jobs in the next two years.

How will it do it? By retraining employees in manufacturing industries that are about to be made redundant and then piling them into telecoms instead. Sounds like a good idea to us. The AEEU is the UK's biggest manufacturing union and it seems to like and trust EXi Telecoms. The DTi is only too happy to avoid trouble from one industry while simultaneously dealing with a shortage in another, so it's happy.

EXi Telecoms will provide the training, AEEU the troops and the DTi will be a handy ally. The DTi is also keen to jump on the deal because it can use it to escape political pressure. The clearest example at the moment is the workers made redundant at steel company Corus. Corus has now agreed some kind of pilot scheme with the AEEU and EXi. Training will take two to three months and staff will be paid full salary while they're on it.

The plan will be rolled out all over the UK and, as the press release points out, should keep our telecoms industry stocked and able to keep up with other countries like Japan when 3G eventually eventually starts moving. It will also help if there are more engineers that can sort out the local loop unbundling when BT starts playing fair. ®

* DTi = Department of Trade and Industry
AEEU = Amalgamated Engineering & Electrical Union

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