High-Tech Giant's $350 Million Plan To Train New Workers

AT&T Randall Stephenson high tech workers initiative AspireBy David Goldman

While Americans struggle to finds jobs, some of the country's biggest companies insist they're struggling just as hard to find workers with the skills they need.

"We are interviewing 11 people to find one qualified candidate," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told CNNMoney. "It's stunning to me."

AT&T, which draws 90% of its revenue from the United States, says it's at a disadvantage compared to other global technology giants. It sees a growing talent gap between this nation and foreign countries, particularly in highly technical fields, but it doesn't have the option of outsourcing heavily.

"We have people putting fiber in trenches, building cell site and installing set-top boxes in homes," Stephenson said. "Those aren't the kind of jobs you can fill abroad."

AT&T's solution: A $350 million commitment to a program called "Aspire," which provides grants to schools, non-profit organizations and researchers for ventures aimed at increasing the country's high-school graduation rate.

AT&T says it has spent $100 million on the program over the past four years, but it recently scaled up its investment, pledging an additional $250 million in funding over the next five years.

There's irony to AT&T investing so heavily in developing its future workforce while its thinning its current roster. AT&T has 256,000 employees, almost than 10,000 fewer than it had a year ago.

But like its high-tech and telecom rivals, AT&T is weathering a sea change in its increasingly digital industry. As its classic landline business dies off and its wireless business grows, the company needs workers with a new set of technical skills.

That's where Aspire comes in. One of the venture's features is a job-shadowing program that has included more than 100,000 students so far. The program made it up to AT&T's top ranks, with Stephenson himself participating for a day.

Alex Elizardo, now a junior finance major at the University of Texas, remembers the spring day in 2008 when he followed AT&T's CEO around the telecom giant's Dallas headquarters.

-- Read the full story on CNNMoney

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If Obama had his way he would tax the hell out of them because they are quote "greedy rich people" and should just give that 350 million to the the government instead. Because they can "spend it better"

April 16 2012 at 10:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Affirmative action.

April 16 2012 at 5:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
vince & lori

so let me get this straight. AT & T needs to get "more qualified applcants" to fill "technical jobs" including: "putting fiber in trenches, building cell site and installing set-top boxes in homes". Sounds like heavy equipment ditch digging with cable installation, and general cable box installation. "building cell site" don't know what that is but could guess that it is the actual reception tower, which would probably take a mix of general construction and engineering skills and technical know how. These were the kinds of jobs a high school grad used to be able to get, with some in house orientation and on going OJT. Too bad they aren't committing to their current employees by re-training them as positions are eliminated.

April 16 2012 at 4:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to vince & lori's comment

read it again they not looking for trenche diggers or cable box installers there looking for people to fill in high tech positions. read it>

April 16 2012 at 8:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

AT&T has the worst ethics of any business in this country. Nice of them to "invest" in new employees.

April 16 2012 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Barbara's comment

Most of the corporations of today only care about one thing...profit margin...understandable since without profit they dont exist ...but now...at the expense of all other facets of the corp. including employment, training, supplies, benefits, hiring freezes, terminations, major downslide in customer service, NO ETHICS ANYMORE>>>JUST PAYOFF THE POWERS THAT BE AND MOVE FORWARD>>>HEADiNG IN AN EVEN SCARIER DIRECTION>>>YET TO BE SEEN!!! by the way...COMCAST ..I think takes the drivers seat in the worst ethics in the country and probably abroad also.

April 16 2012 at 10:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pekpek hunter

i eat pekpek

April 16 2012 at 3:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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