PCIA CEO Says New Public-Private Job Training Initiative Will Help Create “Wireless Workforce of the Future”

October 14, 2014 / Alexandria, VA – Jonathan Adelstein, the President and CEO of PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association today predicted that a new public-private job training program will fill a pressing economic need by helping to create America’s “wireless workforce of the future.”

Called TIRAP (the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program), the initiative establishes apprenticeships to train workers to deploy, upgrade, and maintain wireless network facilities, key imperatives if the U.S. is to meet burgeoning consumer demand and remain globally competitive in wireless technologies. Thousands of U.S. wireless infrastructure jobs, Adelstein pointed out, are currently going unfilled because workers have not received adequate training.

TIRAP is the product of months of deliberations between a telecommunications industry consortium and officials with the federal Department of Labor (DoL). It was officially launched this afternoon at a joint Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-DoL event that featured remarks by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, PCIA head Adelstein, and other consortium leaders.

“The wireless industry is working proactively to address workforce safety and training,” said Adelstein, a former FCC commissioner whose organization helped shape the TIRAP agreement with DoL and the FCC.

“We are striving through TIRAP and other efforts to draw on the expertise of the entire wireless industry to build best practices and best-of-class training curricula across all facets of our workforce. Apprenticeships are a central part of the vision for a comprehensive wireless education. Training may begin in a classroom, but it has to continue in the field – especially in industries like ours – through well-crafted apprenticeships,” Adelstein said.

PCIA’s vision, Adelstein explained, is to create industry-consensus standard operating procedures, provide trainers with first-rate teaching skills to educate workers, and establish employee certification to ensure that they’re implemented. Adelstein’s organization will also establish a database so employers can track those credentials.

TIRAP’s overall goals are to enhance worker safety; address the wireless industry’s needs in broadband deployment; and provide employment and advancement opportunities through skills-based and experiential training. The program will initially center on tower technicians while building pathways toward much-needed specialties and leadership roles. TIRAP’s ultimate aim is to open opportunities for high-skilled, high-paying jobs in one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

“Apprenticeships are just the beginning,” Adelstein said. “We can leverage America’s higher education system, including community colleges and technical schools, to expand training. That will provide more opportunities for the current workforce to enhance their skills and keep up-to-date on the latest technology and techniques. It will also train new workers to fill roles the industry needs.”

Today’s announcement marks PCIA’s second DoL wireless job training announcement in recent weeks. On September 29, DoL awarded a $3.25 million grant to Virginia State University (VSU), a historically black institution, to expand its PCIA-sponsored career training program for military veterans and displaced textile workers. Under the terms of the agreement, PCIA will help administer the VSU program.

TIRAP marks the first time that a DOL certification for registered apprenticeships has been awarded to an industry consortium instead of an individual entity. Upon finishing the training program, an apprentice earns a Completion of Registered Apprenticeship certificate, a nationally-recognized credential that validates a worker’s technical proficiency in various areas.

View Adelstein’s remarks from the TIRAP signing ceremony. 

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PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association is the principal organization representing the companies that build, design, own and manage telecommunications facilities throughout the world. Its over 200 members include carriers, infrastructure providers, and professional services firms.