Train-the-trainer program enriches wireless workforce education

By Cesar Ruiz, CEO of Learning Alliance Corp.

The deployment of next-generation wireless networks is expected to create 3 million new jobs and will require technicians to have a variety of specialized skills. Creating a skilled wireless workforce will require quality training opportunities for existing tower technicians as well as those new to the industry.

Learning Alliance Corp. recently partnered with the Wireless Infrastructure Association’s Telecommunications Education Center (TEC) during the launch of TEC’s new Authorized Training Partner (ATP) program, which is designed to accelerate the delivery of up-to-the-minute knowledge and training to frontline tower technicians and close the wireless skills gap more quickly. As TEC’s first ATP partner, LAC instructors participated in training delivered by TEC focused on 5G technology that will enrich the training they will then be able to provide students at LAC’s facility in Tampa.

“Over the course of these last two weeks our instructors have undergone a Train the Trainer with TEC’s subject matter expert Dr. Rikin Thakker, a well-known and respected educator in the wireless industry,” said Fred Arnold, CCO of LAC. “It is exciting learning about this new topic from such an industry expert.”

The objective of the ATP program is to give companies the tools they need to become learning extensions of TEC, allowing them to take the knowledge and training they have received and bring it back to their employees and potential employees in their communities.

Learning Alliance Corp. and TEC representatives
Learning Alliance Corp. executives and TEC representatives gathered at WIA’s Awards event in Oct. 2019 to honor wireless workforce champions.

As an Authorized Training Partner with TEC, LAC took new strides at becoming an industry 5G expert in the education space. The training builds on the training LAC has been providing in the areas of tower climbing, fiber splicing, and broadband deployment, particularly for veterans transitioning to civilian jobs.

Being an ATP means being at the forefront of 5G. Our main goal is training and educating the next generation wireless work force, so it makes sense to take on 5G as well. Education in new wireless technologies is a necessary component for deploying an efficient and standardized wireless system, and the only way to produce the desired outcome is through these types of partnerships.

The importance of educating the industry is shown in the aggressive goals the FCC, 3GPP, and the industry have set. To extend ultra-low latency connection to 95% of the U.S. is a massive undertaking, requiring time and knowledge. With those aggressive goals the industry faces a job shortage. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr estimated that 20,000 jobs will need to be filled to help fulfill the demand for technological installations. And these are just for tower climbers. This number doesn’t even take into account a whole spectrum of other jobs that are necessary to building 5G, which include various types of technicians, engineers, foremen and forewomen, and many more.

“With all of these new 5G builds underway, industry could now fill 20,000 job openings for tower techs. These are good-paying jobs that could bring thousands of families into the middle class,” Commissioner Carr said during WIA’s 2019 Awards in October, which recognized and honored wireless workforce champions.

Being an ATP will help provide the industry with trained professionals who are ready to take on these new 5G builds.

Our goal has always been to train individuals and get them to work. Being an ATP falls in line with our goal of exchanging ideas and shaping futures. By learning from TEC, we can teach wireless businesses to prepare in Florida, we can teach our new students about 5G, and we can get our students into the industry fast. We can truly shape the future of 5G deployment.

Cesar Ruiz is the CEO and founder of Learning Corporation. LAC collaborates with local and national employers on training initiatives for the wireless industry. Cesar has 22 years of experience in educational program management, implementation and design. Through those years, he has written 294 grants to support employer training initiatives in the state of Florida.