The South Dakota Board of Technical Education has approved the creation of a Wireless Infrastructure Technician Certification program through a partnership with Southeast Technical Institute (Southeast Tech) and VIKOR.
VIKOR, formerly Sioux Falls Tower & Communications, is one of the leading providers of wireless infrastructure in South Dakota. The company saw a growing need to establish this educational program in order to keep up with the changing infrastructure of the wireless telecommunications industry. By developing a strong and skilled local workforce, it ensures Sioux Falls stays on the leading edge of technology and provides a pathway to becoming a 5G connected city.
“5G is expected to contribute $275 billion in new American investment, $500 billion in economic growth, and create three million new jobs,” said U.S. Senator John Thune, Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee Member. “Winning the race to 5G requires world-leading technology, spectrum, and the ability to deploy and build-out wireless services.”
According to the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE), South Dakota could hire an additional 440 technicians in the next five years.
“NATE believes that the Wireless Infrastructure Technician program at Southeast Technical Institute will ultimately serve as a model to emulate nationally in order to promote the professional career path opportunities available in our thriving industry,” said NATE Executive Director Todd Schlekeway.
This will be the only program of its kind currently in South Dakota and one of only two programs of its kind across the nation. Southeast Tech will enroll its first 15 students in January 2020 for this hands-on educational experience, with subsequent certification classes beginning in the spring semester of each year. Students will split time between classes at Southeast Tech and training at the VIKOR facility.
“This new Wireless Infrastructure Technician certificate is a great example of higher education and private industry partnering to help meet the skilled labor shortage that limits future growth, in this case, the expansion of fifth-generation (5G) wireless technology. Our new Wireless Infrastructure Technician certificate is an effort to assist with 5G expansion,” said Southeast Technical Institute President Bob Griggs.
“For many tower contractors like us, we are the institution that provides the training and the resources while on the job,” said Craig Snyder, VIKOR CEO. “Having a program like this will provide the necessary training and resources prior to starting in the field which will only help to elevate the individual and the industry, and in turn will provide much greater outcomes for success for everyone across the board.”