Trainee field technicians hit the home stretch
This year is set to mark a major milestone at nbn: the completion of the nbn™ broadband access network’s volume rollout^.
And for 12 trainees located across Australia, June 2020 will also bring with it the end of their traineeship journey.
It’s an important program because – despite 10.5 million premises already being Ready to Connect to the nbn™ access network – we’re not just building a network to service the nation’s present and near-future broadband needs.
We’re also helping to build a next-generation workforce that includes technicians skilled at operating, maintaining and upgrading our network.
About the program
An 18-month-long course designed to accelerate job readiness, nbn’s Field Technician Traineeship Program offers a balanced mix of seven classroom training blocks plus plenty of practical on-the-job experience.
This intake’s successful candidates range in age from 17 to 38 years, with some fresh from high school and others seeking a career change after decades of work experience.
The trainees are supervised by a rotation of experienced field coaches taken from our field engineer workforce.
The training forms part of a formal government traineeship contract, which means the program concludes with each successful trainee earning two nationally recognised qualifications: a Certificate III in Telecommunications Technology, and a Certificate IV in Telecommunications Engineering Technology.
To achieve these qualifications, the trainees must complete specific technical subjects that cover multiple access technologies, assessed through written assignments, practical assessments, and on-the-job field coach observations.
Throughout the practical portions of the program, the trainees are also required to meet workplace performance standards.
Marking the milestone
In December 2019, the trainees crossed the 12-month milestone with six of the seven classroom blocks completed.
Once the trainees finish their seventh and final classroom training block in February, the rest of their traineeship time will be spent on critical in-field work experience before graduating in June 2020.
Formal training has so far included: learning how to locate, diagnose and rectify faults; using hand and power tools; installing and repairing end-user premises cabling; and studying first aid and other health, safety and environment considerations.
The classroom work isn’t all about technical training, either.
There’s also been practical workshop training on topics including personal development, customer service, cultural awareness and diversity, and business acumen.
In strong testament to the quality of the traineeship, as of the 12-month milestone, participation has remained at 100 per cent. It also reflects the commitment made by each trainee and their mentors.
Meet the trainees
Chatting to some of the trainees about their experience so far drew common reactions: they want to continue working for nbn beyond their traineeship, and recommend that anyone considering a traineeship or role at the business should give it a try.
For trainee Eliza Cameron, it was a natural extension of her experience and passion in the telecommunications industry.
“I thought NBN Co would be a great place to work as I have worked in telecommunications before and I really enjoyed it,” says Eliza.
“I love the telecommunications industry and like working in this field; I would like to progress with NBN Co in the future.”
The program has been eye-opening, says Eliza.
“I have learnt so much and I have progressed so far. I am proud to say I work for NBN Co. The traineeship has been one of the best programs. It’s awesome for trainees. You gain so much knowledge [and there are so many] opportunities.”
For other trainees like Megan Johnston, the reward of the program is found in the variety of tasks.
“I like the diversity and people I work with. Every day is different, and each job or fault, you never know what to expect.
“I have enjoyed the experience and opportunity NBN Co has given me to grow as both a person and a technician,” says Megan.
“I have learnt so much from my knowledgeable and experienced mentors, and couldn’t thank them enough for everything they have done for me.”
This sentiment of no-two-days-being-the-same is shared by fellow trainee Braidyn Clevin.
“I’ve found something I love to do. Most days are never the same, and the ones that are usually involve going somewhere I went to a while ago that I enjoyed.”
Trainee Oliver Olds has appreciated the support that has helped him grow in both confidence and experience.
“I wanted a career change and opportunity to grow my knowledge in the telecommunications industry,” says Oliver.
“I like working for NBN Co because it’s a great team that’s willing to help you, regardless of whether it’s a phone call or coming to the actual job.
“You can’t grow as a worker if you don’t have days of trying to understand the network and getting frustrated,” Oliver adds, “but there’s been some amazing days when it all ‘clicks’, and you really see progress in yourself and understand the nbn™ access network more and more.”
While the trainees are learning a lot, mentors like NBN Co’s Key Operational Imperatives Lead Teagan Cattell are also finding the program to be a rewarding experience.
“Being a mentor to new talent is an incredible opportunity. To impart my field experiences and career progression, and celebrate the milestones with the teams, is a beautiful opportunity.
“To be able to offer guidance and support to the Learning and Capability team, the regions and our very own trainees, has been incredibly rewarding. These are the types of things that get you out of bed and eager to come to work in the morning.”
Still, despite the positive experiences, there are hurdles that Teagan has been helping to overcome.
“The biggest challenge, by far, is the national reach of the program. Our new people are located in all parts of the country.
“Making sure each and every one of the team are engaged and tracking to milestones has been challenging – but we welcome it.”
Within this challenge, though, is an opportunity for other mentors to step in.
“It has been amazing to see the effort [to which] each region has gone to support every individual need,” says Teagan.
“By supporting these needs, we are seeing the talent in the industry grow. It may be challenging, but it is so rewarding, too. The future is looking bright and well-skilled!”
Jeffrey Carter is one of the participants from our inaugural Field Technician Traineeship Program. Today, he works as an nbn Field Technician.
“I’m enjoying every minute of the journey so far,” says Jeffrey.
“There are a lot of ups and downs that come with the journey, but I’m always up for a challenge. My knowledge and skills have come a long way since the traineeship finished and I’m looking to push my case to be promoted to a field engineer in the near future.”
The three Victorian graduates from the inaugural traineeship program have advanced from trainee field technicians to field engineers, including Cameron Sporish.
“After finishing the traineeship program, I became a permanent field technician and, after one year, got the opportunity to become a field engineer now doing on-call [support] as well,” says Cameron.
“I found the traineeship program very rewarding as I got to learn from many different field engineers with a variety of backgrounds, so I got in-depth knowledge.
“I also got to meet a group of great people and made some great friends along the way.”