One of the more eye catching policies during this general election campaign so far has been the Labour Party’s promise to nationalise BT Openreach and provide free broadband for everyone by 2030.

I have no intention whatsoever of discussing the politics of that particular policy.

But as I read about it, I did have a question. And that is – willl everyone need free broadband in 2030?

I work from a variety of different places and so I’m quite good at surfing free wifi. But these days I quite often find that the free wifi on offer isn’t as fast as the 4G data connection on my phone. And since I now have unlimited data (which is not in any way expensive, by the way), I tend to hook my phone up as a hotspot and run with that.

In fact, at the office we have BT wifi – installed by Openreach! – which has a 4G cutover if it fails. A week after it was put in, it failed. I didn’t notice. In fact it was out for 4 weeks before BT rang and said that they would be sending someone to fix it. We’d been running on the 4G connection and it had made no difference at all.

To add to all that, 5G’s on the horizon – and it’s faster still.

So by 2030, will everyone need a broadband connection? I suspect that for a very large number of individuals, families and small businesses, it will be cheaper, easier and massively less hassle just to have a solid 5G connection.

Of course large businesses, data centres, mission critical facilities, people who live in very isolated rural areas and so on and so on – all will need solid reliable fibre. It’s not going to go away. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if by 2030 the idea of fibre broadband to your house feels like a slightly bizarre anachronism – like the idea of having a landline is to many people already.

All of which is a very long introduction to say that this made me think of how companies hire (*crunching gear change sounds*).

Technology moves fast. New products and tools develop rapidly and often become essential or at least highly desirable almost instantly. Which means that companies can get caught on the hop, change tack, get dragged into fighting to hire a very expensive “expert” and still find themselves behind the curve. If you’re trying to build a team and use brand new technology you can often find that that market’s moved before they’ve even all started. I work with more than one company who rebuilt their entire product in one version of javascript before realising they’d backed the wrong horse and had to do it again a year later in Angular.

So of course, I’m not suggesting that hiring people with relevant skills is a bad idea. I’m not looking to go out of business. But I’m saying that an eye for the long term can help. Most companies have an existing team who would love to be cross trained. Most companies don’t need to use literally every new tool that becomes available. Making the most of what you’ve got, hiring for ability and looking to train and retrain gives you, in the long term, a flexible, loyal, and capable team who give you a good chance of delivering what you need when you need it.

Sort of like an unlimited data package.

At Vocative Consulting, we work alongside companies to help them find the very best IT hires for critical roles – we believe recruitment is an art, not just a science.

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