Mississippi-based Alcorn County Electric Power Association (ACE Power) is the first employer to adopt the Fiber Broadband Association’s Optical Telecom Installation Certification Path (OpTIC Path) training program, FBA announced this week.
The program provides training that aims to develop the skills required for entry-level employment as a fiber optic technician, a job that is in great demand. The program consists of 144 hours of classroom instruction and hands-on skills training.
To date the program has been adopted primarily by community colleges. With the ACE Power news, the program is now offered or under consideration at 40 colleges, learning institutions, and employers in 32 states and two countries outside the U.S.
ACE Power has a history of innovation — it was America’s first rural cooperative and the first electric cooperative in its region to offer multi-gigabit broadband service, according to a press release. The company provides fiber broadband service to about 6,700 customers. Members of the cooperative can get fiber broadband at speeds up to 2 Gbps.
As an OpTIC Path training center, ACE Power expects to maximize skills training while minimizing impact on customer service. Technicians can remain on the ACE Power campus while training, so they are available should a work issue arise. The first course is expected to be offered by the end of the year.
“The team at ACE Power helped us early on to shape the OpTIC program by providing valuable feedback on what skills are needed across the fiber broadband industry. We’re pleased to see the co-op launch its own course so quickly and bring the program’s benefits to Mississippi,” said Deborah Kish, Vice President of Research and Workforce Development at the Fiber Broadband Association, in a prepared statement about ACE’s FBA OpTIC training plans. “Fiber is the only broadband technology capable of supporting current and future capacity demands, so it is crucial that we expand and properly train the fiber workforce. The benefits of fiber broadband will improve quality-of-life for decades to come.”
ACE Power is also working with local colleges and cooperatives to expand the adoption of the OpTIC Path program.