Fiber Connect 2023 witnessed a groundbreaking announcement from the Fiber Broadband Association, marking another stride in the ongoing efforts to bridge the digital divide and expand high-speed broadband access across North America.
The association introduced a transformative initiative: a mini course as part of its Optical Telecom Installer Certification (OpTIC Path) program. The course, titled “Broadband Basics: Your Future in Fiber!” aims to introduce essential broadband concepts, attract new talent to the industry, and address the pressing need for skilled fiber technicians in the field.
The expansion of fiber networks to reach underserved and unserved communities has posed a crucial challenge: the demand for proficient fiber technicians far exceeds the available skilled workforce. Recognizing this urgency, the OpTIC Path program has been developed to provide comprehensive training that can be seamlessly integrated into educational institutions, training centers, and workplaces.
Collaborating closely with Dura-Line Academy, a part of Orbia’s Connectivity Solutions group, the Fiber Broadband Association crafted the OpTIC Path “Broadband Basics: Your Future is Fiber!” mini course. This 15-minute introductory module, accessible online around the clock, is aimed at attracting prospective technicians to the vibrant world of fiber broadband. Upon successful completion of the course, participants will be awarded a digital badge, symbolizing their foundational understanding of the industry.
Deborah Kish, Vice President of Research and Workforce Development at the Fiber Broadband Association, expressed the significant impact of this initiative: “The OpTIC Path Broadband Basics course will drive awareness to today’s youth of the fiber broadband industry and the benefits fiber technicians can access as they plan their careers. We pre-packaged our program’s value statements into an ultra-consumable session so it will be easy to understand why a career in fiber is a great decision.”
The momentum behind the OpTIC Path program is palpable, with ongoing engagement in 39 states, involving 40 service providers, and collaborating with 67 community colleges and training institutions. Notably, electric cooperatives in several states have already adopted or shown keen interest in the program. Beyond educational institutions, employers in the fiber broadband industry are also rallying behind this initiative, fostering partnerships with educational establishments to identify and employ certified technicians as soon as they are prepared to enter the workforce.
As Fiber Broadband Association continues to spearhead efforts to democratize access to high-speed broadband, the launch of the “Broadband Basics” mini course underlines their commitment to not only closing the technician skills gap but also inspiring a new generation of professionals to embark on a rewarding journey in the fiber broadband sector.