Installer training is finally shaping up

Training in the cabling industry has been a lot like the weather; it generates a lot of discussion, but not much action is taken--until now.

Oct 1st, 1997

Training in the cabling industry has been a lot like the weather; it generates a lot of discussion, but not much action is taken--until now.

Oh sure, many manufacturers offer vendor-specific training programs. I have sat in on a number of these programs, and some of them are excellent. But let`s face it: Even the best of them have a marketing spin that favors the parent company. The purpose of these certification programs, after all, is to create a corps of installers to act as value-added resellers of the manufacturer`s products. The carrot for the contractor is that these certifications can lead to more business; the stick is that the manufacturer may refuse to warranty its products unless installed by a certified contractor.

There are independent trainers and training companies as well, but those I know about tend to concentrate on one aspect of the cabling industry--fiber optics, Category 5 installation, safety, or the National Electrical Code.

A year ago this month, bicsi (Tampa, FL) made a giant commitment to installer training by debuting its Installer Training and Registration Program at Cabling Installation Expo `96. This three-level curriculum includes classroom, hands-on, and on-the-job training, followed by an examination--and registration for those who pass it.

This complementary program to bicsi`s successful registered communications distribution designer (rcdd) promises, like the rcdd before it, to become an essential credential for the cabling industry. However, generic and comprehensive installer training over the last year has only been available from bicsi and the organizations it trains and licenses to offer its instruction package. Not surprisingly, some vendors, who are forever looking for a leg up on their competitors, have viewed bicsi licensing as one more way to tout their superiority to the marketplace, taking us right back to the problem we had with vendor certification programs.

Recently, however, bicsi has remedied this limitation on its installer-training offering by extending a lower-cost licensing option to vocational schools and community colleges across the country. The Mideast Ohio Vocational School in Zanesville, OH, will be the first of what we hope are many academic institutions to incorporate cabling-installation training into its curriculum.

According to bicsi executive director Jay Warmke, it has always been the organization`s intent to offer this training program through schools. "It won`t work if we`re the only ones doing it," Warmke adds. "We need government acceptance, educational acceptance, and industry-wide acceptance."

Warmke says the program "lays the groundwork for the workforce of the future," and we at Cabling Installation & Maintenance agree with him and applaud bicsi`s nationwide educational initiative. For the cabling industry, we thank this nonprofit organization for the large sum of money and tremendous effort it has already invested in installer training.

That being said, we urge bicsi not to rest too long on its laurels. There is still work to be done. Generic installer training needs to become the backbone of vendor certification programs, and bicsi`s curriculum must be coordinated with the educational efforts of other organizations, such as the fiber-optic training offered by The Fiber Optic Association and the training program for electricians sponsored by the Joint Apprenticeship Training Program of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

More in Cabling Installation