Reflecting the rapidly changing nature of networks and the need for training that prepares people to deal with and leverage those networks in their businesses, Nokia is adding two new certifications in distributed cloud networks and industrial automation networks to its online certification program on 5G-related topics.

Nokia says that since it launched the program last year with two initial courses, 22,000 people globally across many industries have registered for them. Those two courses consisted of an introduction to the components of 5G networks from end-to-end and a 5G professional networking course.

Nokia plans to release two additional professional-level certifications later this year, focused on network slicing and secure networks.

The current courses range from four to eight hours, can be completed at the user’s own pace and have an accompanying exam that, if passed, result in certification in the topic.

“The 5G certification program gives business leaders and technology professionals a competitive advantage, helping them to plan and adapt their business processes to take advantage of Industry 4.0 and turn much-discussed concepts of smart cities, autonomous vehicles, virtual learning and remote healthcare into impactful realities,” said Sergio Fasce, VP of People Services, which is the learning and development branch of Nokia. Nokia noted that over the next five years, 71% of companies are expected to invest in 5G technology.

In order to figure out how 5G can best serve a business and its customers, however, enterprises from top to bottom have to have a better understanding of what 5G is, what it can enable and how to integrate it into their operations. From oil and gas to 5G factories and smart ports, vertical industries are exploring and beginning to implement 5G — meaning that they need to hire employees with the skills to work with those networks, develop 5G-related skills within existing employees, lean on partners to deliver networks-as-a-service, or some combination of the three.

Even as the use of cellular technologies and private networks expand across industries, the nature of those networks is itself changing, becoming cloud-native, distributed and even disaggregated.

Tareq Amin, group CTO for Rakuten Mobile, recently told RCR Wireless News that “the skill sets to run and manage a software network platform, in my view, needs to be a remarkably different skill set. The challenges are very, very different.”

Rakuten Mobile launched a fully virtualized, built-from-the-ground up 4G mobile network in Japan last spring, followed by a 5G launch in the fall; it has thus far attracted 2.5 million customers. In addition to its own network, it has developed the Rakuten Communications Platform, which aims to help governments, businesses and other telecom companies replicate its approach to networks. Discussing Rakuten Mobile’s workforce, Amin said that the company “only [hires]people that have software backgrounds and capability. We have quite a bit of [site reliability engineers]running and managing this network.

“If you look at traditionally what we have done in telecom, you know, we always followed standard method of procedures, various checklists,” he continued. “Well, these checklists maybe could have been created a decade ago and maybe today they don’t apply. These checklists today have been transformed from more documents to digitized workflows and that’s really fundamentally required a cultural awareness that writing code to address automation is a critical thing.

” If you don’t have a software background, I think you will struggle to sustain and develop your career as the network moves into a software architecture and a software platform,” Amin said. “So reskilling existing resources is very important, and hiring the right talent and the right pipeline of skills to be able to look at today and tomorrow’s challenges in the software world is very, very different.”

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