All telecommunications companies train their employees. Whether it’s initial training, on-the-job training, or annual training, everyone is dutifully making sure our industry’s workers know what they need to perform their job safely, effectively, and efficiently. So I’m often asked: “What does apprenticeship training offer that’s above and beyond what my company is already doing?”
It’s an important question, especially given the tight budgets we all are facing. The short answer is that an apprenticeship is a cost-effective way to improve training while also building employee engagement and retention. Not all apprenticeships were created equal, however.
WIA’s Telecommunications Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) was built for telecom companies by telecom companies. Industry came together to decide on standards for employee development – competencies that are critical for success. The standards form a roadmap for establishing training and building career paths that let employees clearly see how they can gain wage increases and promotions, boosting engagement in their work and retention in the long run.
And TIRAP continues to pick up steam. Since the beginning of last year, the number of companies signed on to TIRAP has doubled. And that was during a pandemic. We continue to add occupations that are in demand – now 11 in total, including tower technician, wireless technician, overhead and underground utility technician, and fiber technician, plus leads and foremen that represent a complete career pathway.
It’s all part of WIA’s strategy for upskilling and growing the industry through effective training. WIA earned a federal grant to increase and strengthen apprenticeships and was named the only national workforce intermediary for the telecommunications industry. We have an expanding team of experts to support companies as they understand apprenticeship, set up TIRAP for their teams, minimize reporting and paperwork, and apply for funding to help defray training expenses.
Earlier this year, we reached another milestone: 50 telecommunications employers have signed on to TIRAP. These 50 employers are blazing a trail by joining this rapidly growing group of businesses implementing standardized workforce training that will benefit them as employers, their employees, and when taken together, the entire industry. That’s a vote of confidence in TIRAP as a solution that just works for wireless.
Vice President, Workforce Development