Press Release

Washington, DC — (BUSINESS WIRE) — The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) today announced that Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center, a free public school in Everett, Washington, offering technical training for junior and senior high school students, is the first high school and latest education institution to offer FBA’s Optical Telecom Installer Certification (OpTIC Path™) program. Graduating with a certification from this course gives students the crucial skills to jumpstart a lucrative career in fiber broadband and helps fill the critical broadband technician workforce gap that exists across North America.

Growing the fiber broadband workforce is important as Washington gets ready to utilize the $1.2 billion awarded to the state as part of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. Snohomish County, where Sno-Isle TECH is located, is one of the most densely populated and fastest-growing areas in Washington state, with a lot of new homes and businesses to connect. Adding the FBA OpTIC Path program to the Electronics Engineering Technology program will enable Sno-Isle to provide students hands-on fiber technician training and certification.

“I am always excited to see that another institution will offer the OpTIC Path program, but adding a high school to our ecosystem of training institutions is a crucial step in the right direction. As the fiber workforce continues to age and many technicians near retirement, it’s important to ensure that the next generation of fiber technicians are qualified, ready, and excited to step up,” said Todd Jackson, Director of Workforce Development at the Fiber Broadband Association. “Graduates of this course will be welcomed into a workforce that will remain high in demand for decades to come, offering a well-paid, long-term career, especially in the coming years as BEAD funding begins to rollout.”

Sno-Isle is also working with local internet service provider Whidbey Telecom to aid instruction. With the help of this local ISP, these future fiber technicians will learn the challenges of the area they will serve before they hit the field, creating a smooth transition from classroom to field. The involvement of ISPs is crucial when shaping the next generation of fiber broadband technicians and they can offer more in-depth insight from their years of deployment experience.

“We are excited to partner with the FBA and Sno-Isle TECH to bring fiber optic training and education to the Pacific Northwest,” stated George Henny, Co-CEO of Whidbey Telecom, a fiber broadband service provider based on Whidbey Island, Washington. “At Whidbey Telecom, we are focused on the future of our connected community, and this education path is a great opportunity for our company to give back and for all of us to grow forward.”

“We are thrilled to partner with FBA to bring another element of electronics engineering technology to life for our students,” said Wes Allen, Sno-Isle Director. “Learning these crucial skills to have a successful career as a qualified fiber technician will set them on the pathway to family-wage careers, with many of them being able to serve their own communities by ensuring residents can connect to remote work, telehealth, education, and entertainment opportunities.”

Sno-Isle TECH will launch the OpTIC Path program on May 28, 2024, at its kick-off celebration. Those invited to the celebration include workforce development leaders at FBA, directors and staff at Whidbey Telecom, and Washington state elected officials: Senator Maria Cantwell, Governor Jay Inslee, U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02), and U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene (WA-01).

FBA is currently engaged with 40 of its targeted 56 states and territories to roll out the OpTIC Path program, with 44 service providers and 70 community colleges and training institutions.The OpTIC Path program is rapidly gaining traction among employers in the fiber broadband industry. These employers work hand-in-hand with schools and training institutions to ensure a steady supply of certified technicians ready to join the workforce. Furthermore, they are integrating OpTIC Path into their workforce development programs, leveraging it to reskill and upskill their existing employees as part of their overall workforce development strategy. To learn more, visit fiberbroadband.org/education-and-certification/fba-optic-path/.

Press Release

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