Entry-level cabling techs will be "ready for the recovery"

As most of us wait in angst-filled anticipation for the economy in general and the cabling market in particular to post a recovery, executives at one training company say they're not just prepared for it, they're preparing others for it as well.

As most of us wait in angst-filled anticipation for the economy in general and the cabling market in particular to post a recovery, executives at one training company say they're not just prepared for it, they're preparing others for it as well.

C-Tech Associates (www.c-techtraining.com), based in Sparta, NJ, has established a cabling-training curriculum for organizations such as community colleges, technical centers, and work programs throughout the country. C-Tech's "hook" is that students who complete their program enter the market as entry-level workers, at entry-level pay rates, with skills well beyond those of off-the-street workers.

"The cost of getting a new hire 'up to speed' is very high, especially when that technician leaves after 10 or 12 weeks," explains C-Tech's director of marketing, Ken Lowenstein. "Turnover is high because the person answered an ad for a job because they need a paycheck. Then they don't like what they are doing and move on to the next job." He further explains that students who have been through C-Tech's program have already invested time and sometimes money in training, have an interest in and knowledge of the cabling field, are ready to work on day one, and are prepared to take manufacturer-specific training programs. "They understand that our programs are the first step in their career progression," says Lowenstein.

The program includes three tiers: a 40-hour introduction to telecommunications, a 35-hour introduction to copper network cabling, and a 30-hour introduction to fiber network cabling. "Approximately 40% of the introduction to telecommunications is hands-on training," Lowenstein says, adding that hands-on training for copper is about 75%, and about 60% for fiber.

So, how has C-Tech fared as the economy has plunged? "A lot of the jobs that have been lost in the industry have been mid-level management," Lowenstein says. "Approximately 45% of those who have taken our program are doing so because they want to start a new career. Houston Community College has certified more than 300 students since July 2000, with an 85% placement rate. That's because they work at it."

In other words, entry-level career seekers still see the cabling industry as a viable option, and opportunities still exist for them, especially if their educators make placement efforts. "The important thing is that when the industry takes the turn, there is a trained workforce that is ready to work from the first day," adds Lowenstein.

C-Tech president Bill Brady is optimistic about the near-term. "The market is going back into a growth stage in a short period of time," he says. "We're responding to students who need help, and responding to the needs of schools. Attendance rates are up, and our education is making an impact at every level.

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