Update – 1.12. 2015, 12:20 p.m. – Jonathan Campbell, who is listed on TIRAP’s web site as one of or the organization’s executive board members and PCIA’s Director of Government Affairs, left PCIA on Friday to take a position with the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. It is not known if PCIA will be asked to fill his position with another association executive.
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PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association’s single sentence mission statement: “Help our members succeed in enabling wireless communications,” has surpassed its membership as the trade organization eyes opportunities to train and educate the nation’s wireless workforce and also meet the safety needs of the industry. It’s also looking to develop and manage a national database to track credentials.
Marc Ganzi, who was Chairman of the PCIA Board of Directors, met U.S.D.A. Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein at the signing of an executive order in June of 2012 aimed at accelerating broadband. At that time he reportedly began courting Adelstein to consider becoming PCIA President and CEO, a position that was being vacated by Michael Fitch who said he wanted to pursue other opportunities in telecommunications consulting.
Adelstein, a former FCC Commissioner with serious ties to Washington’s movers and shakers, considered the top post and three months later was appointed to lead the organization. He also considered additional ways the association could become more relevant in the wireless development and construction sector.
Safety and training focus is relatively new to PCIA
Although worker safety and specialized training was never a central focus of PCIA, under Adelstein’s direction they became core concerns of the Alexandria, Va.-based association as it continues to contribute significant funding and manpower to develop them.
In 2013, Adelstein was mapping his training initiatives and reached out to Phil Larsen, then national director of operations for Nexius Fusion, to assist him with his efforts. Larsen came on board in January of 2014 and assisted PCIA in its collaboration with Virginia State University to submit their successful U.S. Department of Labor $3.25 million grant application to provide training programs for the wireless workforce.
As part of the Sept. 2014 award, the DoL approved $750,000 for PCIA to help create nationally recognized competencies and credentials in the field of wireless infrastructure deployment.
Last Wednesday, PCIA announced that it was strengthening its on-staff roster with the appointment of former Sprint executive John Harrison as a senior advisor. In the newly created role, Harrison will assist PCIA’s ongoing workforce training initiatives.
Adelstein said that Harrison, who spent 30 years at Sprint and ran their Network Vision buildout, will help guide PCIA’s training and education initiative, which seeks industry-consensus to establish and launch a wireless workforce certification program and develop a database so employers can track those credentials.
But seeking industry consensus may be challenging for the former Sprint executive.
Recognized third party being sought by task force
In a collaborative effort, the Wireless Industry Safety Task Force and the National Association of Tower Erectors are reviewing their 43-page draft of a National Wireless Training Standard that has been a joint effort of carriers, contractors and other companies, many of which are PCIA members.
However, their governance working group is moving forward on assessing a nationally recognized third party regulatory firm to administer or govern the subject matter, according to a company executive familiar with the group.
PCIA has expressed their interest in being the nation’s regulatory compliance agency, but according to individuals knowledgeable about the skills-based training subcommittee’s efforts, they’re not a key candidate for consideration.
PCIA currently has a number of individuals on their coordination team that assist, for a fee, companies filing an application for a new Federal Communications Commission mobile radio license or modifying an existing FCC license, and is seeking to expand their organization by managing data collection of wireless workers’ credentials.
NCCER could be on task force’s radar
One of the nation’s leading third party accreditation organizations that NATE and the safety task force might be considering is NCCER which currently manages Associated Builders and Contractors and the Associated General Contractors of America’s testing.
The workforce development organization on Thursday will launch its newly developed testing management system which is designed to make module testing easy with a process where tests are created, launched, scored and electronically stored.
Both NATE and PCIA did not respond to requests for additional information about collaborative efforts between the two associations.
How TIRAP will engage with other initiatives is not known
PCIA has also been active in TIRAP, the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program, a public-private partnership aimed at developing apprenticeships to improve workplace safety, address industry workforce needs, and provide workers with greater employment and advancement opportunities.
Although the U.S. Department of Labor-credentialed program will help fill the industry’s need for skilled workers that have a safety-first mentality, it is not known how their programs will dovetail with PCIA, NATE and the Wireless Industry Safety Task Force’s initiatives.
One of TIRAP’s executive board members is Jonathan Campbell, Director of Government Affairs for PCIA and a former law clerk to Adelstein when he was an FCC Commissioner.
A DoL and FCC Fact sheet handout at an Oct. 2014 workshop in Washington, D.C. states that “Both TIRAP and NATE are aligned to ensure the quality of the work, and standards and training are sufficient for a safe working environment for all workers in the industry,” but NATE’s “alignment” appears to be more of a general endorsement for any program that will assist in elevating training and skillsets, and it’s not an organizational statement, said two active NATE members.
Sonya Roshek, Director and Vice President of Construction, Telecom at Black & Veatch, an energetic member company of both NATE and PCIA, serves on the National Association of Tower Erector’s Safety Task Force and acts as liaison between TIRAP and the Task Force.