NBN Co is preparing to change the way it accredits technicians to work on the network rollout, introducing a new option whereby "more experienced individuals" can skip training and be assessed for accreditation straight away.
The network builder has struggled with the issue of attracting and training enough staff to meet roll-out targets and outlined the planned changes to its Training and Accreditation Program (TAP) in a tender published yesterday.
"Currently, the only process for achieving accreditation is a traditional learning pathway with both training and assessment elements," the company said.
"NBN Co is implementing a new, alternative pathway (Assessment Direct) whereby assessment for accreditation purposes can be undertaken on an assessment-only basis.
"Its primary candidates are expected to be those more experienced individuals wishing to achieve NBN Co accreditations without the need to attend formal training."
Accreditations target "skills acquisition" around NBN-specific products and technologies. They presently include training for workers on elevated platforms and power awareness, and courses that deal with specific aspects of the fibre rollout, such as cable hauling and splicing.
NBN Co expects to be offering "around 20" accreditations — effectively short training courses, by the end of this year.
The company said that as part of the changes to TAP, it wants to appoint a third-party company to "build, manage and operate" a registrar service on behalf of NBN Co.
The registrar would effectively manage the end-to-end process of getting experienced technicians registered and accredited to work on the NBN rollout, from an initial online knowledge assessment through to a practical assessment and issuing of cards and appropriate documentation.
NBN Co has long faced questions over how it plans to attract a workforce large enough to meet targets as the rollout begins to scale out.
The company models its workforce requirements against one and three-year rollout plans, and has identified a number of job types that it is focused on fostering through its training scheme.