Future Skills Tracker report

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Telcos need new skills to change their organisations to compete like technology companies. Insights from our Future skills tracker tool show that telcos are behind techcos in the penetration of key skillsets and provides direction on the capabilities required to become more innovative, agile and software-driven overall.

Building internal capabilities

Many telcos have ambitions to be more like technology companies (techcos): customer centric, innovative, efficient and agile.

Techcos leverage software, data, artificial intelligence, automation and cloud to this end.

This aspiration requires not only new technology, but also new skills. STL has identified nine key skills for a successful telco-to-techco transition:

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI and ML)
  • Automation
  • Cloud
  • Cyber security
  • Data analytics
  • Innovation
  • Network
  • Software
  • User experience (UX)

Our Future Skills Tracker compares telcos and techcos on the penetration of these skills.

In this report, we examine the workforce structures of companies in our sample as at January 2024.

The sample includes 19 telcos and 9 techcos.

Telcos:  BT Group, Vodafone, Elisa, Deutsche Telekom, STC, KPN, Verizon, Telstra, Telenor Group, Orange, Singtel, Bell Canada, Spark New Zealand, Telefónica, Swisscom, TELUS, T-Mobile US, Turkcell, AT&T

Techcos: Apple, AWS, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia, Intel, IBM, Rakuten

Scope and limitations
All graphs in the report are based on data from our Future Skills Tracker, which relies on LinkedIn profiles. We do not account for workers that are not on the platform and assume that skill categories are equally affected. The data in our tracker may skew towards English language LinkedIn profiles. For information on our tool, click here (select Strategy).

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Telcos lag techcos in penetration of skills

  • Future skills penetration at techcos is more than double that of telcos in January 2024.
  • Across our sample, the average size of the techco workforce is 124K for techco versus 43K for telco (based on LinkedIn data).
  • The skills composition of the workforce may differ across the techco business sector, but operating and value creation capabilities are similar.
    • Techco averages provides an informative benchmark for telcos to assess their progress towards becoming more like a techco.
  • Telcos are struggling to compete for a share of the talent pool which is growing more slowly than demand.

Nine future skills as a share of total headcount

Source: STL Partners

Table of contents

  • Executive summary
  • Recommendations for telcos
  • Future skills trends
  • Skill-specific insights
  • Individual telco recent focus on skills

Related research

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Nicola Warren


Nicola Warren

Senior Analyst

Nicola Warren is a senior analyst, leading the Transformation Leadership research service at STL Partners.