The 5G skills gap: What does the government need?

11.08.2020

Everyday developments in technology make it possible to explore new avenues of thought, make new discoveries and investigate concepts that would have seemed incomprehensible beforehand. The introduction of 5G is no different. Previously the idea that the next generation of technology standard could be up to 1,000 times faster than 4G, be more reliable due to a higher frequency and boost the effectiveness of infrastructure would be unheard of. It is easy to get swept away by these points and the opportunities that 5G will create, but a skill gap has formed and it is only growing.

On the surface the possibilities of smart cities, improvements to services, artificial intelligence and better military situational awareness appear as further advantages of 5G. Although the development of smart cities is a fantastic technological feat, how will these be managed and maintained? To sustain these advancements we will start to see an influx of people required to specialise in these fields. In order to utilise 5G to its fullest, there will need to be employees adept in platform programming, radio frequency technologies and mobile apps as a minimum requirement. Experts will be needed to navigate the potential projects to complete the subsequent business processes. There is already a struggle to recruit and retain those skilled in STEM areas as it is, and so finding those that also specialise in navigating 5G will be incredibly difficult. The government will also need to ensure that technology is developed to fully make use of all that 5G can offer.

However, despite the positive impact it can have on business processes, there will be a strain on already limited resources as a result. The integration of 5G into all aspects of travel, communication and infrastructure is not a simple process. It is unlike dealing with other aspects of commerce as it is governed by concerns of privacy and security. The disposal of pieces of smart infrastructure like lamp posts, signs and post boxes will need to be regulated in the same manner that our computers are when they are discarded. Each structure will have links to private information and data that will need to be protected at all stages of the process.

The government will need to approach all aspects of 5G with privacy and security at the forefront of their considerations. The placement of additional base stations and localised antennas means that 5G uses less energy than 4G. However, the base stations and antennas act as a physical reminder of the radio frequencies that surround the public in day to day life. Billions of devices will be connected to the network and exposed to the risks of security breaches every day. As a result the government is assigned the task of ensuring that the highest levels of security and privacy are upheld. This will create a larger drain on resources to maintain this level of safety.
5G is a mark of huge technological progress in our society. It promises the potential of improvement and an exciting new way of interacting, both internally and with other communities. Despite this there are many ramifications to be considered, including but not limiting to the skills gap, the drain on resources and the additional safety measures required that should not be overlooked.

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