The number of job vacancies for engineers and IT and data specialists is immense, but the supply does not meet the demand. The number of graduates from scientific, technical, technological and mathematical disciplines in all Belgian regions is far below par at 1.6%. We rank only 26th on a European scale for ICT graduates (DESI 2019).
By 2030, it is anticipated that one in ten vacancies (i.e. 584,000 jobs) in Belgium will not be filled due to a shortage of employees with the relevant skills, primarily in the field of technology (Agoria 2018). According to the World Economic Forum, 54% of all employees will also need to be receive training in the field of digital technology by 2022.
Training courses and traineeships
However, employees with strong digital and technical skills are an important driver for the successful digital transformation of a company. This is something that Telenet understands as well, and is why the company is actively committed to continuous development of its employees’ talents and lifelong learning, on top of the recruitment of new talent. By giving employees the opportunity to keep their technical skills and digital knowledge up to date, the company aims to actively contribute to the sustainable employability of people on the labour market.
It therefore founded the ‘Academy for Digital & Data Talent’, for which it is collaborating with the universities KU Leuven, VUB, ULB and BeCode, the programming school that provides free training in the field of web development.
The academy will offer training courses for the initial and further training as well as retraining of current Telenet employees. The programme is initially directed at more than 200 employees from the telecom company’s IT, data and engineering departments. Together with the universities, Telenet defined 118 themes for training programs that focus on such areas as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and data analysis, cybersecurity and cloud-based systems.
BeCode will, in turn, offer courses where coding and programming languages such as Python and Angular are taught. Telenet will gradually develop and roll out the training courses with a view to meeting the company’s own business needs.
Not only that: the telecom operator also wants to help prepare and attract new and young talent through the ‘Academy for Digital & Data Talent’. It will offer traineeships and job shadowing opportunities, organise workshops and hackathons and hold guest lectures at the universities on a structural basis. Over the next five years, Telenet intends to invest four million euros in the ‘Academy for Digital & Data Talent’.
‘The jobs of the future require different and increasingly digital and technical skills. How do we prepare not only young people but also our current employees for these jobs? And how do we remain attractive as an employer in a sector that is continually grappling with a war for talent? Telenet aims to be a future-proof and agile company, which is why we believe in maximum talent development and growth. It is certain that we will all have to continue working for longer, so we should do everything we can to make it as challenging and interesting as possible. At Telenet we want to create lifelong employability. In other words: we want to allow our employees to acquire skills and knowledge that they can use throughout their careers on the labour market and that promote their agility in the digital economy. Through the ‘Academy for Digital & Data Talent’ we also want to create a structure for this, together with KU Leuven, VUB, ULB and BeCode.’
Ann Caluwaerts, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Telenet
Collaborative research for innovation
In addition to interaction in terms of training programmes and recruitment, Telenet, KU Leuven and VUB, ULB will also set up facilities for academic research to stimulate innovation. Several of KU Leuven’s research groups and departments will conduct research on such topics as data analysis and cybersecurity, network management and entertainment, which can be directly linked to practical situations thanks to data provided by Telenet.
‘This strategic partnership with Telenet builds on the rich tradition of cooperation with the business community that KU Leuven has developed over the last 50 years. We are delighted that this partnership covers all facets of our university’s three missions: training, research and valorisation. Together with the impulses that the Flemish government is currently giving in disciplines such as digitisation, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, we will collaborate with Telenet on a development of talent that will put Flanders on the international map in these fields.’
Gerard Govers, Vice-Rector for the Science & Technology Group at KU Leuven
Professor Koen Debackere, General Administrator at KU Leuven
As part of the ‘Academy for Digital & Data Talent’, VUB and ULB will focus on artificial intelligence through research as well as training programmes .In addition, Telenet will collaborate with the various research groups of VUB and ULB on natural language and speech recognition, transparent and ethical artificial intelligence, predictive network maintenance and and operationalization of machine learning models, IoT and cyber security.
‘In a world where lifelong learning is becoming a concrete part of our lives, it is important that the academic world remains in touch with the needs of the industrial sector, and the opportunities offered by it. It also feeds our research through the “research-in-residence” programme, in which we allow researchers and employees to collaborate intensively. This collaboration also allows us to hone the soft skills of our students through challenges at Telenet (dual learning).’
Romain Meeusen, Vice-Rector for Internationalisation Policy at VUB
‘Not only lifelong learning, but also creative and interdisciplinary thinking, which is intrinsic to the DNA of the Brussels AI groups, will provide new innovative developments. Together with Telenet, we will strive for meaningful AI creations that contribute added value to the benefit of our society and human well-being.’
Oberdan Leo, Vice-Rector for Research and Development at ULB
BeCode’s training courses will be complementary to those given by the universities. While BeCode will mainly train the doers, the universities will focus more on the thinkers. Both profiles are important for an agile company.
‘BeCode and Telenet have been joining forces to promote an inclusive society by offering ICT training to job seekers and early school leavers for quite some time now. We are proud that Telenet endorses the added value of our active pedagogy and now also wishes to use it to train or retrain its own employees.’
Karen Boers, CEO of BeCode
Ben Weyts, the Flemish Minister of Education, is enthusiastic about the collaboration between Telenet, KU Leuven, VUB, ULB and BeCode.
‘The learning process doesn’t stop after you graduate. It’s good that employees keep on learning and it’s good that Telenet is making time and money available for this. It is crucial that both employers and employees are aware of the importance of further training. I hope that many more companies will follow Telenet’s good example.’
Ben Weyts, Flemish Minister of Education