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2022

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Working the Fiber Technician Workforce Crunch

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The telecommunications industry realizes it has a workforce shortage and needs to accelerate workforce development. The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) and the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) have formally announced an industry partnership to work on the issue, bringing apprenticeship programs to all 56 states and territories to meet the nation’s needs for skilled fiber technicians over the next five years.

The telecommunications industry realizes it has a workforce shortage and needs to accelerate workforce development. The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) and the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) have formally announced an industry partnership to work on the issue, bringing apprenticeship programs to all 56 states and territories to meet the nation’s needs for skilled fiber technicians over the next five years.

“Anecdotally we hear from our members, you will have people just basically hopscotching from one company to another and they continue to go back and forth,” said Mark Boxer, Technical Manager, Solutions and Applications Engineering, OFS and a key contributor to FBA’s OpTIC Path™ training program. “That's great if you're working as an installer and your standard of living is continuing to rise but ultimately, we have a small pool of people at the exact same time as we have historical levels of funding coming in. We’re also seeing a lot of people starting to age out at the end of their careers.”

As part of the BEAD program, states are required to submit a workforce plan within 270 days of receiving the planning funds. The workforce plan should include sector-based partnerships and how the state plans to engage education and training providers, unions, other work organizations, and employers.

“The requirements include equitable onramps into broadband related jobs, tapping into underrepresented populations and ensuring a diverse pool of workers, and it includes targeted outreach to those populations that have been underrepresented in broadband and IT,” said Tim House, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA). “I'm really excited about the partnership that WIA and FBA forged because it will help us to join forces around all of the possible training and education, and workforce solutions related to broadband.”

WIA and FBA have a cooperative agreement to join together on a Registered Apprenticeship solution, to support training and certifications for the industry mapped to apprenticeships and careers, and to assess new and emerging occupations that can contribute to building the communications networks the nation needs.

 

For more information on the WIA/FBA cooperative agreement, the importance and role of apprenticeships in building fiber technicians, FBA’s OpTIC Path program, and statewide sector partnerships being built for education and workforce development, listen to the latest Fiber for Breakfast podcast.

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