AT&T pushing online courses for installers as part of network virtualization efforts

AT&T (NYSE: T) is making a big push to promote new technology skills within its workforce, including new training for network installers as the operator continues toward its goal of network virtualization.

AT&T says more than 120,000 of its 281,000 employees have so far completed 1.7 million online courses as part of a massive re-training program the operator is undertaking to prepare its employees for the virtualized network environments of the future, according to CIO Journal.

Some of the new skills AT&T employees are pursuing include software-defined network architecture and protocols, as well as cybersecurity for virtualized network environments. The education initiative, named Workforce 2020, is reaching all levels of the company, from field technicians to management.

"Separate from and concurrent with our Workforce 2020 training, we're providing on a daily basis both leader-led and e-learning training to our installers. As it always has, that training will continue to evolve as future technologies become a reality in the workplace," AT&T said in a statement provided to FierceInstaller. "Regarding 2020 training, we're reskilling not only our managers, but our non-management employees."

The company said that in February it launched a website providing non-management employees an understanding of Workforce 2020 and a clear path to the career resources and training they can use to keep pace with the company's transformation.

AT&T has long been touting its efforts to virtualize 75 percent of its network by 2020 and that transition means workers skilled in managing and maintaining legacy networks will need to update their skillsets or deal with diminishing opportunities to put those increasingly outdated skills to work.

"Linking yourself to the old technology will become like duck hunting through a chimney – you need to be a very good shot," John Donovan, AT&T's chief strategy officer, told CIO Journal.

AT&T's Workforce 2020 training program will rely on online education company Udacity and a 2014 partnership with Georgia Tech.

AT&T's pay-TV rival Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) recently announced a similar partnership with Georgia Tech in order to train military veterans as cable techs. According to a Society of Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE), Comcast will be the first to use the program to recruit and train potential engineering employees.

For more:
- read this CIO Journal article

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