Chorus says it is struggling to recruit technicians and support staff needed to meet the demands it faces across its copper and fibre business, despite having added almost 2000 people to its workforce since 2011. It wants to add another 250 technicians and support staff by the end of the year.
The announcement comes as the company apologises to customers who have been suffering from delays in Chorus repairing faults, and the company says it has made improvement in this area its immediate priority.
Chorus’ general manager infrastructure, Ed Beattie, said: “The most fundamental challenge remains hiring enough people throughout the country to meet the demands of running an existing copper network, building a new fibre network and installing thousands of new fibre connections every month.
“The wider context is that across Chorus and our service company partners, we had about 1800 technicians working on the network in 2011, and today we have about 3700. We still need hundreds more to be able to meet all of the demands on Chorus in acceptable timeframes. Not the least of which is doing more than 600 fibre installations every day – a huge level of demand.”
Beattie added: “We have scoured New Zealand for potential technicians, and also brought in technicians from around the world to help meet the demand, but it’s still not enough. It’s not a matter of budgets or willingness, we simply need more people and the ‘help wanted’ sign is well and truly out.
“We have left no stone unturned, including working with WINZ, running job fairs, hiring technicians from overseas, working with other companies who may no longer need as many technician staff, and working with Government to make hiring overseas workers with relevant skills easier.
“We run extensive training programmes, as do our service company partners, and we are adding around 25 new technicians to our field force every week. But the need to add technicians to the workforce must be balanced with ensuring they have the right skills to ensure high quality of workmanship, and the right customer service capabilities so we know they are providing a good experience for our customers when they go into their homes.”
Chorus says it has reprioritised some of its technicians from other work and other locations to fixing copper faults in Auckland, where the majority of the repair delays are being experienced.