Efforts to enlarge and update the broadband workforce continue as NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association announced training partnerships with three organizations.
The first cooperative program is with the Northwood Technical College. The school will provide NTCA member companies across the country with access to Northwood’s Broadband Academy online courses and library and a “Digital Badging” initiative in which students either enroll in the whole program or take classes on a one-by-one basis.
NTCA and Northwood also aim to create a common template for “apprenticeship-like” training so that NTCA member companies can offer supervised work experience and mentoring to students enrolled in or who have completed Northwood Tech coursework.
The second NTCA training partner is The National Rural Education Association (NREA). The partners plan to work with local broadband providers and school districts to “identify existing and new curricula that correlate to broadband industry needs.” The coursework will be combined with other activities, including internship opportunities, “ride-alongs” and job fairs to raise awareness of careers in broadband, help schools build coursework, and provide students with hands-on opportunities.
Finally, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and NTCA will make apprenticeship programs available to NTCA member companies with CWA workforces. Those employees also will be able to participate in an OSHA 10 training course, thereby gaining a valuable credential.
“It has been gratifying to see NTCA members working so fast and furiously to build out broadband to communities still waiting for robust service,” NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield said in a press release. “Yet, the work is never done. Whether it is installs, upgrades, or maintenance, there is certainly more than enough work to go around. That is why it is fitting that NTCA is stepping up to help increase the number and skills of broadband workers. Especially given retention and recruitment in rural markets is more challenging than urban markets, we are proud to be working with Northwood Tech, NREA, and CWA to support the broadband providers we represent and the communities they live in and serve.”
The amount of funding being allocated by the government at the federal and state levels is leading to a training push so that the broadband industry is ready for the projects that will follow.
The Fiber Broadband Association and its Optical Telecom Installation Certification (OpTIC) Path program is a main element of the drive. Most recently, the FBA said that S&N Communications and the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC) would participate in the program.