Telenet, together with KU Leuven, VUB, ULB and the BeCode programming school, is setting up an ‘Academy for Digital & Data Talent’ to strengthen the digital knowledge and technical skills of their employees through initial training, upskilling as well as reskilling.

By sharing knowledge and practical examples with the three universities and BeCode, the telecom company also aims to attract new, young talented individuals and prepare them for a career. By doing so, the various parties involved hope to join forces in providing a concrete answer to the challenges of digitization by countering the shortage of workers with a technical background.

Telenet will invest four million euros in the initiative over the next five years. The academy is founded on a shared vision that lifelong learning is a prerequisite if you wish to remain agile in a rapidly changing digital economy.

By 2030, it is anticipated that one in ten vacancies 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 why Telenet is 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 lifelong and sustainable employability of people in the labour market.

The academy will offer training courses at different levels, as well as retraining for 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 areas such 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.

The telecom operator also wants to help train and attract new and young talent through the ‘Academy for Digital & Data Talent’. It will offer traineeships and internships opportunities, organize 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’.

Ann Caluwaerts, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Telenet said: ‘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.’

Collaborative research for innovation

In addition to interaction in terms of training programmes and recruitment, Telenet, KU Leuven  VUB and 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.

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 operationalization of machine learning models, IoT and cyber security.

BeCode’s training courses will be complementary to those given by the universities.
Ben Weyts, the Flemish Minister of Education, is enthusiastic about the collaboration between Telenet, KU Leuven, VUB, ULB and BeCode.

He said: ‘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.’