In a speech delivered — ironically — to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Penn revealed plans to set up an innovation and capability centre in Bangalore, India.
"T22 [Telstra's plan for the future] also means we need to build new skills and capabilities in new areas for the future," he said.
"We need these capabilities now, but the fact is we cannot find in Australia enough of the skills, like software engineers, that we need on the scale that we need them.
"We are also competing for these skills domestically with other Australian organisations, including some of you in the room here today.
"That competition is fierce and it is estimated Australia will have a shortfall of 60,000 skilled workers in the ICT sector in the next five years.
"That means we are having to recruit some of those capabilities on the global market, including in places like India."
Students as well as unemployed and under-employed IT people could be forgiven for wondering why Telstra and those other companies aren't working harder to increase the size of that pipeline – but keep that point in mind as you read on.
"Given our urgent need, Telstra will be creating a new Telstra Innovation and Capability Centre in Bangalore, which will become operational later this year," continued Penn.
"Bangalore is India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ and even there we are competing for talent with the likes of Apple, Google and other digital companies.
"This Innovation and Capability Centre consolidates our presence in India where we already work with many partners and furthers in-house talent we previously sourced from third parties. It means we can quickly hire, develop and scale that talent across our business.
It also complements what we are doing here in Australia within Telstra Labs, Muru-D our accelerator program and our customer insight centres."
Penn also called for "the ability to bring skilled migrants into out team when we need to".
"We need to build skills not walls," he added.
"An ongoing skilled migration policy is essential for Australia and essential for Telstra to attract and recruit the right talent and capabilities we need to transform and compete effectively on a global stage."
But it's not all bad news for existing residents of Australia.
"Currently, we are sourcing far more of this [technology] talent from outside Australia than from within. We are therefore committed to working with government and industry partners to explore building a bigger technology talent pipeline within Australia, for the overall benefit of the nation," said Penn.
"By the end of FY21, the proportion of both our offshore workforce and our industry partner workforce will decline," he explained.