NBN Co and its contractors are raiding the internal NBN-related project teams of ISPs such as iiNet in their battle to skill up for the significant ramp-up of the national network.
John Lindsay, iiNet's chief technology officer and nominated as a finalist in the iTnews Benchmark Awards — told an audience of his peers that the ISP was battling against poaching from mining companies, NBN Co and from inside its own outsourced call centres.
Lindsay said iiNet had "lost a lot of staff in the last year ... to all things NBN-related".
"As fast as I find the staff to rollout our NBN deployment, NBN Co and their contractors take those staff to do their side of the rollout, leaving me unable to rollout. It's bizarre," he said.
"I don't know what's going to happen to those people come later this year and a Federal Election if there's a change of government, because I've certainly found replacements for them."
Big money in Western Australia's mining boom had also proven an attractive carrot for some iiNet workers.
"I lose technical staff and the business loses staff from the call centres and all the other areas of the business in Perth largely to mining, which is very frustrating," Lindsay said.
Lindsay faced another more unusual threat to call centre staff in an outsourced Filipino facility that it inherited in the acquisition of AAPT's consumer business.
"The particular thing that we see in the Philippines is that call centre provides service for a dozen different global companies, and just when we get somebody who's working on our contract up to speed, and they've worked out all of our systems and they're getting really good Net Promoter Scores, then American Express take them," he said.
"They don't even have to leave their desk — they just get switched to a new call queue."
Lindsay contrasted this to another outsourced call centre facility run by iiNet in Cape Town, South Africa.
"They are all contractors and it is managed by a company who set the facility up for us," Lindsay said.
"However they are completely integrated with the [iiNet] business, so it's the same cultural fit. They use all the same workflow management tools and knowledge base systems and comms as all the rest of our staff.
"It's our building with our logo on the side of it. Those staff are completely dedicated to working for us."