The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) and the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) today announced their entry into a Collaborative Workforce Development Agreement to advance critical workforce education and training for the broadband communications industry. The new agreement helps to promote both associations’ workforce development programs: the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) that is nationally sponsored by WIA for broadband and 5G technicians; and the Fiber Broadband Association’s Optical Telecom Installer Certification (OpTIC Path) program that trains fiber technicians.
Within the Collaborative Workforce Development Agreement, both associations will promote each other’s training and apprenticeship programs. The Fiber Broadband Association will gain a seat on WIA’s Apprenticeship Advisory Committee for TIRAP and will help ensure that the OpTIC Path training program is mapped to WIA’s TIRAP occupation requirements. Additionally, the Fiber Broadband Association will work to promote TIRAP apprenticeship programs within its existing and future network of community colleges and other learning institutions that offer the OpTIC Path course.
Gary Bolton, president and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association, commented:
“The Fiber Broadband Association is aggressively pursuing the goal to bring our fiber optic training to community colleges, veterans, and training institutions in all 56 U.S. states and territories. However, it is partnerships with accomplished organizations like WIA that enable our industries to truly advance mutual initiatives to enable every community to experience the benefits of high-speed connectivity. We’re seeing considerable NTIA funding as well as private investments that will help create digital equity across North America, but we can’t do that without a larger technical workforce to actually build the networks. This partnership with WIA will help close that workforce gap.”
The Fiber Broadband Association said it will also help WIA develop new apprentice occupations and career paths related to the fiber broadband industry. WIA will provide its operational and administrative expertise and resources to advance fiber broadband workforce development efforts; FBA members and Fiber Optic Technician employers can receive incentive funds managed by WIA for the adoption and operation of registered apprenticeship programs.
Patrick Halley, president and CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association, commented:
“Thanks to strong support from industry and our partners in the federal government and across the states, WIA has been expanding quality training programs across the U.S. to meet the demand for a highly-skilled broadband workforce, including through our Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP), and our 5G Readiness Program. Our partnership with the Fiber Broadband Association comes at an exciting time for the telecommunications industry, and we look forward to working closely with them to further expand and enhance training and registered apprenticeships.”
The associations said they will now work together to promote Registered Apprenticeship, develop world-class curriculum, establish industry-recognized credentials and certifications, and articulate career pathways.
As jointly noted by the associations in a press release:
With $42.45 billion in Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funding for broadband infrastructure, in addition to the $80 billion invested annually by the broadband industry, there has never been more demand to build broadband networks. To meet that demand, it is essential that industry and government join hands to address workforce gaps.
The next Fiber Broadband Association Regional Fiber Connect event, held November 3 in Columbus, Ohio, will feature WIA CTO Dr. Rikin Thakker on a panel that explores Ohio Broadband and 5G Partnerships. The event will also host a live “Train the Trainer” workshop to expand OpTIC Path instructor training opportunities.