In addition to the many new technologies it's expected to enable, 5G should benefit women's professional lives, according to longtime industry innovator Jennifer Kyriakakis.
"The opportunity and impact that 5G will have on women's careers is tremendous," Kyriakakis, MATRIXX Software founder and marketing vice president, told Light Reading in an interview.
Overall, 5G could support nearly 22 million jobs by 2035, according to a report by Qualcomm and IHS Markit .
Panelists at a recent Women in Comms breakfast workshop held during Light Reading's NV & SDN Americas event in Dallas last month honed in specifically on how 5G could impact job opportunities for women in comms and tech, as well as the technical and soft skills women should develop to prepare for these new positions.
"[5G will] open up a lot of high-skill jobs," said panelist Christina Cheng, assistant vice president of Enterprise Mobility at AT&T Business.
Women in Comms also caught up via email with MATRIXX's Kyriakakis to discuss how 5G will open doors to new job opportunities. Kyriakakis, who has over 20 years experience in the telecom industry, is a Forbes contributor, as well as a frequent keynoter and panelist at industry events.
Next-generation wireless will enable the creation of many new opportunities in the telecom industry, especially around microservices, networking, automation and security, Kyriakakis said. New jobs in these fields will also require employees to continually reskill; Kyriakakis shared ways women in tech can engage in the open source community to keep pace with the latest 5G developments, and take advantage of workplace initiatives and programs to support their continuing education. It's also important for women to "focus on business outcomes instead of just pure technology," she noted. Read on for more of our edited interview.
Women in Comms: The tech and communications industries expect 5G to deliver new opportunities for service providers and equipment manufacturers, but how will 5G impact engineers and network architects at these organizations?
Jennifer Kyriakakis: A new 5G landscape requires significant changes to the existing infrastructure of telcos and enterprises alike. As with any major infrastructure shift, there is an accompanying need for a skills evolution.
The exciting part of this evolution is the opportunities it opens across departments, including opportunities for women to step up into more technical and leadership roles. Everything from microservices, to network security, automation, orchestration and software-defined networking (SDN) provide new options for those who choose to re-skill or up-skill their current capabilities. In other words, take action now. Use this transition time within your own organization to step forward and find new avenues to take your career.
WiC: What impact will 5G have on hiring decisions, future employment opportunities and for women in comms to break or bump into the glass ceiling?
JK: Within telecom companies there will be a significant amount of opportunity within the areas I mentioned above, namely microservices, networking, automation and security. These will all require new sets of skills, which puts anyone interested at a huge advantage.
In addition to these areas, there will need to be a complete rethink of how both consumer and enterprise products and services will be packaged and marketed. This is a golden opportunity to gain a better understanding of what is possible and to take a lead role in developing new lines of business and revenue on the commercial side.
Another significant evolution will be in both sponsorship and partnership models, particularly across sports and entertainment, as this will be an area of growth for telcos in the wake of 5G.
WiC: How can women develop technical and soft skills to prepare for the potential impact of 5G on their careers?
JK: The opportunity and impact 5G will have on women's careers is tremendous. In fact, IHS Markit estimates that 5G will support 22 million jobs globally by 2035. We don't always know when the 'next big thing' is going to happen, but the 5G evolution is looming loud and clear and this is a train you'll want to jump on.
Take advantage by learning new skills in places like 5G-courses.com, a resource of experts with numerous online classes and training. Another way to stay ahead of 5G is to immerse yourself in the open source community. It's not only a great way to stay on top of the latest information; it's also ideal for influencing the direction of projects, finding new talent or introducing yourself to someone looking for your skills and abilities. Also, consider vendor certification programs for radio and core network, which will only increase your marketability.
5G Transport & the Edge in New York on October 10. Reserve your spot and learn from and network with industry experts; communications service providers get in free!
WiC: What types of policies or programs can organizations implement to better support all employees who may be impacted by disruptive technologies like 5G?
JK: Programs that allow employees to upskill or reskill are critical, though these are fairly common in technical roles. Where these types of programs could be of most benefit are with line-of-business (LOB) and product owners. Companies should consider how they can better train and reskill employees across the board, not just in the highly technical roles of IT and engineering. The major infrastructure changes that 5G will bring about require internal 'think tank' programs and cross departmental events -- ones that focus on business outcomes instead of just pure technology.
WiC: How will a new 5G landscape open opportunities for women outside of service providers and equipment manufacturers?
JK: 5G is driving change in more areas than just telecom. The startup community is set to thrive as a host of new companies will be able to leverage 5G for emerging technologies -- everything from artificial intelligence to augmented and virtual realities, new devices, IoT, advanced advertising models, etc.
This means opportunities for women are not only within the telco domain, but throughout a host of new technologies that will proliferate in the wake of 5G roll outs. This boon will span industries from retail to healthcare, manufacturing, logistics and more. No matter the industry you're in, by better understanding 5G there will be opportunities for more women-led startups and greater opportunities for women in general. It's an exciting time!
— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading