PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein has been selected by the U.S. Department of Labor-credentialed Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) to replace board member Jonathan Campbell, PCIA’s former Director of Government Affairs who left PCIA last Friday to take a position with the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.
“PCIA has the expertise and resources to help TIRAP achieve its objective of understanding the industry’s needs in regards to training a highly skilled, safe, and motivated wireless workforce,” said TIRAP Board Chairman Scott Kisting in a statement published by PCIA.
TIRAP has been pooling resources from the National Association of Tower Erectors, the Wireless Industry Safety Task Force and others to identify and set criteria for skill levels and job classifications for industry workers. PCIA will be assisting in their continuing efforts.
Reportedly under consideration are: Helper/Ground Worker, Ground Technician, Telecommunications Tower Technician l, Telecommunications ll, and Lead/Foreman Tower Worker.
Additional positions such as Antenna & Line Foreman, Tower Construction Foreman and Structural Modification Foreman are expected to be reviewed by TIRAP for possible inclusion as it further develops its apprenticeship program.
Outlining skillsets required for standardized workforce job classifications, such as Telecommunications Tower Technician l, has been a long-sought industry challenge.
Although the industry could see multiple skills-based training outlets, from current safety training companies that might want to expand their curriculum, or colleges and universities who have or are currently setting up training programs, it is anticipated that they would be required to observe the same competency requirements so that carriers and tower owners could be assured that their scopes of work were being performed by experienced personnel.
$3.25 million grant will turn out 346 graduates
By having concise national proficiencies required for different job titles from collective energies of TIRAP and other associations, PCIA will be able to jumpstart their efforts to assist Virginia State University in developing their wireless training program that is expected to graduate 346 participants in three years.
VSU announced in October that it had won a $3.25 million grant from the DoL to develop a wireless infrastructure career program, a new direction for four-year institutions that was typically courted by two-year schools.
As part of the award, the DoL approved $750,000 which is specified in the application for PCIA, according to the association, to help create nationally recognized competencies and credentials in the field of wireless infrastructure deployment.
“VSU intends to be that national center for wireless education and the TAACCCT grant provides the resources to achieve that objective,” wrote Keith Williamson, associate vice president for research and innovation and dean of the College of Engineering and Technology at VSU, in an email to Diverse, explaining that the center will become the nation’s “central repository for wireless training and education.”
Williamson said that he expects 420 participants over the three-year grant period and that 346 will actually complete the program. He says the $3.25 million grant will be used to cover costs “far beyond instruction,” according to Diverse.
“The goal is to develop infrastructure to sustain the program far into the future,” Williamson said. “For example, other associated costs include costs for developing the curriculum, establishing a national registry for the wireless workforce, establishing prior learning assessments for awarding college credit, providing online instruction and assessing program outcomes.”
The grant will also provide for training towers and safety equipment.
Other TIRAP Board members include: David Sams, SBA Communications Corporation; Beau Aero, GME Supply; Dave Anthony, Shenandoah Tower Service; Richard Cullum, Crown Castle USA Inc.; Kelley Dunne, Warriors 4 Wireless; Dale Heath, CommScope; and Paul Roberts, American Tower Corporation.
Advisors assisting TIRAP are: Jim Maddux, OSHA; and Stephanie Brewer, Midwest Underground Technology, Inc.