AT&T and Corning will create a program to help train a workforce capable of supporting the massive investments that are being made in fiber broadband networks.
The Fiber Optic Training Program will provide training on optical fiber and networking, network design, hands-on splicing, connectorization, field construction for cable deployment, testing and system turn-up. The program, which will be based at Corning’s North Carolina facility, includes lab visits and technician ride-alongs.
“As the industry is currently experiencing a shortage of technicians and installers, this training will support future needs and help build the skilled workforce of tomorrow,” said Steve Mitchell, senior vice president, Carrier Networks at Corning Optical Communications.
The initiative is important in light of the industry’s expected growth during the next few years, according to a blog post by Jeff Luong, AT&T president of broadband access and adoption initiatives.
The post points to several rationales for the program:
- About 850,000 jobs are expected to be created through 2025.
- AT&T’s 2021 capital budget is $21.6 billion and the company has a goal of reaching 30 million locations with fiber by 2025.
- Local governments will have access to billions of dollars earmarked for broadband from the federal government.
The program is expected to be ready for investments that will come from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The two companies will work with community organizations to recruit trainees “from a variety of diverse backgrounds and geographic locations.”
Last month, RVA LLC said that service providers will spend $125 billion on fiber during the next five years, a figure that would exceed the total amount that has been invested since the industry began deploying fiber.
The creation of the program and the stated reasons for doing so dovetail with the recent run of news of service providers launching new networks and increasing the speeds of existing infrastructure. Many of these networks, especially the new ones, are reaching 2 Gbps and some 5 Gbps. Clearly, a skilled workforce will be needed.