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Government must commit to Kiwi jobs

Government must commit to Kiwi jobs

The Government should come clean on whether Telecom will be required to employ New Zealand workers to roll out ultrafast broadband, or allowed to give jobs to a foreign-based workforce, Labour’s Communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran says.

There are mounting fears that the new Telecom split off company, Chorus, will use an Australian contracting firm, Visionstream, to recruit cheap, foreign labour to lay broadband fibre. Industry insiders have confirmed the company does not directly employ skilled fibre engineers or the workforce required to dig the trenches for the fibres, but uses contractors instead.

"It's widely recognised the Government needs a highly skilled workforce to deliver its $1.5 billion ultrafast broadband scheme," Clare Curran said.

“ETITO, which sets the qualification standards for telco workers, says engineers with a specialised knowledge of fibre optic cables are needed for this work, and the sector should be investing in more of these people now.

“Yet we have Communications Minister Steven Joyce telling us there is no immediate skill shortage and funding for more training could be made available by the Tertiary Education Commission if required.

“The Government’s lack of commitment to invest in a skilled home-grown workforce shows an appalling lack of foresight. It seems to think that in doing this deal with Telecom, the problem ETITO has identified will fix itself.

“And this from the very same Government that has just outsourced millions dollars of work to a Chinese company to build new carriages for KiwiRail, doing some 70-plus New Zealanders out of a job,” Clare Curran said.

“The Government has no commitment to a skilled information and technology workforce and is indifferent to moves that will drive down wages and fragment this important workforce.

“Steven Joyce needs to tell the New Zealand public whether he believes in a skilled IT workforce, and whether the government has a role in ensuring we build it,” said Clare Curran.


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