Why real work experience will take telecoms into the future.


If you are struggling to find good graduates you won’t be alone. The lack of young people studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is a problem which is worldwide and cuts across all sectors. The solution won’t come overnight but maybe we, as industry insiders, should look more closely at what we can do to help make that change and ensure we are one step ahead to secure the future of the industry.

This year is the first time at Roscom have decided to go through the accreditation process to give local schoolchildren the chance to do work experience with us. It wasn’t a decision made overnight. We wanted to be sure we would be able to give real work experience before going ahead. For one thing there is nothing worse than having a bored teenager around when your staff are trying to work. Its also incredibly soul destroying for the youngster to be given nothing to do apart from make tea.

We want to do our bit to encourage schoolchildren into the STEM subjects. The media is full of stories about the skills shortage in this area. In the UK, the government is providing financial incentives as part of its campaign for more graduates to train as teachers in these subjects. Meanwhile the UK inventor, James Dyson, best known for his bagless vacuum cleaner, has set up the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology.

But if we, in telecoms, are even going to get school leavers to think about these subjects, we have to catch them while they are young. That means giving them proper work experience. Our design engineers work with companies from BT to Orange developing innovative ways of testing and measure phone usage.

By offering work experience, youngsters can see how we thoroughly test and measure mobiles and landlines for our clients – the network operators. We hope our innovative work, which includes producing new design engineering solutions, will spark their interest in joining the telecoms industry in the future.

There are plenty of celebrity examples who have studied STEM subjects like the BritishTV presenter and physicist Brian Cox. The first man on the moon was an engineer – Neil Armstrong – and the second man on the moon too – Buzz Aldrin. Meanwhile for the Facebook generation, the co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, studied computer science and psychology at Harvard University.

We are not suggesting you let youngsters loose on rerouting your server but giving them a real and even hands on experience should help ensure the telecoms industry has its own stars of the future.

Mandy Blackburn, Operations Director at Roscom.