WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2014 – Telecommunications companies and industry associations today joined with the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to unveil a public-private partnership to develop apprenticeship programs for the training of the telecommunications industry workforce.
Jonathan Adelstein, the CEO of PCIA -- the Wireless Infrastructure Association -- said the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program, or TIRAP, will fill a pressing economic need.
TIRAP, launched Tuesday afternoon at a joint FCC-DoL event, establishes apprenticeships to train workers to deploy, upgrade, and maintain wireless network facilities. Adelstein said thousands of wireless infrastructure jobs are currently going unfilled due to a lack of training.
“Apprenticeships are a central part of the vision for a comprehensive wireless education. Training may begin in a classroom, but it has to continue in the field – especially in industries like ours – through well-crafted apprenticeships,” said Adelstein, a former FCC commissioner whose organization helped shape the TIRAP agreement.
Through TIRAP, an apprentice can earn a nationally-recognized credential that validates a worker’s technical proficiency.
“Innovation is driving demand for advance telecommunication services, and as a result, the industry needs a highly-skilled, safety-conscious workforce to build and maintain our country's world-leading network infrastructure,” said Scott Kisting, senior vice president at Midwest Underground Technology Inc. and chairman of the TIRAP’s governing board.
“A DoL-credentialed apprenticeship program will help us fill thousands of much-needed positions with driven, skilled workers that have a safety-first mentality,” he said.
TIRAP’s overall goals are to enhance worker safety, address the wireless industry’s needs in broadband deployment, and provide employment and advancement opportunities through skills-based and experiential training. The program will initially center on tower technicians, while its ultimate aim is to open opportunities for highly skilled, high-paying jobs in one of the fastest growing industries in the world.
“Apprenticeships are just the beginning,” Adelstein said. “We can leverage America’s higher education system, including community colleges and technical schools, to expand training. That will provide more opportunities for the current workforce to enhance their skills and keep up-to-date on the latest technology and techniques. It will also train new workers to fill roles the industry needs.”
Stakeholders involved in TIRAP include the American Tower Corporation, CommScope, Crown Castle International, and SBA Communications; construction and service companies Midwest Underground Technology, Inc. and Shenandoah Tower Services; safety equipment manufacturer and outfitter GME Supply Company; PCIA - The Wireless Infrastructure Association; and non-profit veterans training and employment advocate Warriors4Wireless. TIRAP is also partnering with the National Association of Tower Erectors’ Safety Task Force on the development of apprenticeship safety training guidelines.
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