At Fiber Connect 2022 (June 12-15), the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) announced the successful completion of its Optical Telecom Installation Certification Path (OpTIC Path) program pilot course by its first class of OpTIC Path technicians, and that the program is now expanding across North America.
As stated by an FBA press release, "The OpTIC Path course is developing the skilled workforce of fiber technicians needed to support the significant increase in fiber network builds planned as the industry enters its largest investment cycle ever."
“Our research tells us that the recent federal funding for broadband infrastructure means that there will be more fiber deployed in the next five years than all the fiber deployed to-date. However, there is a current shortage of skilled workers in the fiber industry, and that will lead to stalled or failed projects and increasing costs,” explained Deborah Kish, vice president of Research and Workforce Development at the Fiber Broadband Association. “Our OpTIC Path program delivers fiber technicians to help ensure our industry can successfully leverage the monumental opportunity that is in front of us.”
Introduced at Fiber Connect 2021, the OpTIC Path program was launched at Wilson Community College, with the pilot course starting in March 2022 and successfully concluded in May. FBA notes it is rapidly expanding the OpTIC Path program working with schools and organizations across 25 states that are interested in the training program.
At Fiber Connect 2022, the FBA noted it also sold out its first OpTIC Path "Train the Trainer" course, with participation from colleges, contractors, telcos, and electric co-ops. The Train the Trainer course is specially designed to prepare instructors to deliver OpTIC Path course material. The association notes that high schools, trade schools, colleges, the U.S. Department of Labor, state workforce development programs, and veterans’ programs are eager to support and deliver the OpTIC Path course to build the skilled fiber workforce needed to close the digital divide.
“The OpTIC Path training program was designed to provide the knowledge and hands-on skills that new technicians need to build today’s and tomorrow’s fiber networks,” said Mark Boxer, technical manager, Solutions and Applications Engineering at OFS; Fiber Broadband Association board member; and lead for the Fiber Broadband Association Training and Certification Program. “We’re very pleased with the success of the pilot course and to see new trainees ready to hit the ground running.”