NBN Co is set to bring technical training for its 250-strong internal maintenance and fault repair workforce back in-house, cutting its costs by half.
The network builder is expected to unveil plans today to build five training labs that house “working replicas” of its fixed network, quarantined from the live NBN, that will be used to train its technicians.
While most field work is performed by NBN Co’s construction delivery partners and their subcontractors, the company has a growing technical field force of its own that runs post-construction activity.
Currently numbering 250 but expected to grow, these workers are mainly charged with performing final checks on assets before they are handed over to NBN Co by delivery partners. They also do hands-on maintenance and fault repairs in ready for service (RFS) areas.
NBN Co has a separate 18-month apprenticeship program whose participants will also go through the internal training labs. There are currently 13 apprentices in that scheme.
Each of the five training labs will house network equipment and configurations that technicians would find in the field for the FTTx, HFC, transit and Ethernet aggregation portions of the network.
The labs also have space for classroom learning.
The first lab is already live in Sydney’s north-west. Others will be completed next month and will be located in metropolitan areas of Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria.
The labs replace arrangements where equipment vendors would mostly provide technical training on their gear.
NBN Co believes that by running the training programs in-house it could cut training times for some new field technicians from three months to as little as one month.
But an NBN Co spokesperson indicated that would not come at the expense of technicians having hands-on time with the network equipment.
“The reduction in training time comes from NBN Co tailoring a training course that fits what we see in the field,” a spokesperson told iTnews.
“At the moment NBN Co uses vendor training to teach its internal workforce how to fix, repair, install each access tech. But the vendors exclusively teach on their piece of kit.
“By consolidating training in-house, we not only reduce our reliance on multiple vendor programs, but we are also able to teach our internal workforce how each piece of kit works with others pieces regardless of what vendor it comes from.”
NBN Co said the project had the potential to halve its annual technical training bill, though it did not provide specifics.
The company will continue to use external companies to handle the training of new workers that want to achieve basic telecommunications certifications to become eligible for NBN work. NBN Co does not employ these workers directly; they usually are with its delivery partners.