PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association – and Warriors 4 Wireless (W4W) are developing technical training programs to help solve the growing workforce needs of wireless infrastructure companies. The organizations are currently writing a grant to the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) for funding for a program at Virginia State University, PCIA CEO Jonathan Adelstein said during his keynote address at the AGL Conference, held June 19 in Washington, D.C.
“One of the things that I am really excited about is building a wireless work force so that we can deploy 4G and 5G and beyond,” Adelstein said. “Job training is crucial to unlocking the growth of potentially 30,000 jobs in the wireless industry, according to a study performed by PCIA. There are 10,000 jobs in our industry that we are having trouble filling right now, particularly tower climbers.”
Last Fall, W4W CEO Kelley Dunne asked PCIA to be the lead industry association representative to help recruit veterans for jobs in the wireless industry. Adelstein subsequently joined the organization’s seven-member advisory board.
“We are a precision industry. It takes precision training to get the job done right,” Adelstein said. “There are not enough people to get the job done right. Turf vendor members are saying that their biggest challenge is the labor market.”
The initiative was formally launched in Washington, D.C. last November in an event at the White House hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Other companies that have committed to the effort include Mastec, Cisco, American Tower and T-Mobile.
Aiken Technical College has partnered with W4W to become its educational provider of tower installation training in the southeastern United States.
“We jumped in with both feet doing everything we can to make the program at Aiken work. We have identified an additional school, Virginia State University, to [assist W4W],” Adelstein said.
Adelstein said students in the VSU program will not be prepared for temporary jobs, but for lifelong careers in the wireless industry.
“So we are developing a complete curriculum – from tower climbing and installing DAS and small cells to RF design and engineering,” Adelstein said.
In order get the ball rolling at VSU, PCIA is applying for a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for VSU, which is due in two weeks. Adelstein asked the audience to provide the association with support letters that discuss workforce needs of companies that will hire graduates of the program.
“We need your involvement,” Adelstein said. “We want to prove to the DoL that we have a pipeline of companies that will take these graduates.” The W4W program has an aggressive goal of placing more than 5,000 veterans in wireless technician positions by 2015. In the future, Adelstein hopes to expand the technical training program to schools nationwide to try to meet that goal.