The broadband industry’s response to the need for qualified technicians gained steam this week. The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) and the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) announced that they are teaming up to enhance broadband workforce education and training.

“[I]t is partnerships with accomplished organizations like WIA that enable our industries to truly advance mutual initiatives to enable every community to experience the benefits of high-speed connectivity,” FBA President and CEO Gary Bolton said in a press release.

“We’re seeing considerable NTIA funding as well as private investments that will help create digital equity across North America, but we can’t do that without a larger technical workforce to actually build the networks. This partnership with WIA will help close that workforce gap.”

The collaborative broadband workforce development agreement has several elements.

According to the press release, the elements consist of:

  • The two groups will promote each group’s training and apprenticeship programs.
  • The FBA will get a seat on the Apprenticeship Advisory Committee for WIA’s Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP).
  • The FBA will promote the TIRAP programs through its current and future network of participants in its Optical Telecom Installer Certification (OpTIC) Path courses. The courses are being offered at colleges and elsewhere.
  • The FBA will help the WIA develop new apprentice occupations and career paths.
  • WIA will provide operational and administrative expertise and resources to advance fiber broadband workforce development efforts.
  • FBA members and fiber optic technician employers will be able eligible to receive incentive funds managed by WIA for the adoption and operation of registered apprenticeship programs.

WIA will participate in the next FBA Regional Fiber Connect event, which is slated for November 3 in Columbus, Ohio.

It’s been a busy October for the OpTIC Path program. On October 11, S&N Communication and the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC) said that they will offer the program. A week later, the FBA said that The Learning Alliance would do likewise.

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