The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has approved the occupation of small cell technician as a nationally recognized occupation through the Wireless Infrastructure Association’s (WIA) Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP), according to WIA.
The occupation, TIRAP’s twelfth to receive official recognition as a registered apprenticeship, is fundamental for the expansion of modern wireless infrastructure nationwide and the advancement of 5G technology, WIA said.
“Small cells are typically placed on telephone poles and other existing structures, and their installation requires a different set of skills than macro tower installation,” a statement from WIA reads. “WIA consulted with subject matter experts from a wide range of carriers, operators, and contractors to build consensus standards for the small cell technician occupation.”
Jonathan Adelstein, WIA’s president and CEO, said that TIRAP considers current and future workforce demand in developing solutions for the wireless industry.
“Apprenticeships for small cell technicians will help bring new people into the industry as well as to upskill the existing workforce,” Adelstein said.
Brad Baumann, vice chair of the TIRAP Advisory Board and vice president of wireless solutions for Gabe’s Construction, said, “Standardizing skills and competencies for small cell technicians is a big step forward for TIRAP and for wireless and utility construction.”
Additionally, WIA said, Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh has appointed Adelstein to DOL’s National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship, which President Joe Biden reinstated on Feb. 17. The committee provides advice and recommendations to the secretary on ways to better use apprenticeship training to provide equitable career pathways that advance the dignity of work, particularly in fast-growing industries and sectors, according to WIA.
Adelstein said that WIA is the leader in developing telecommunications apprenticeships and workforce training crucial to the expansion of telecommunications infrastructure and the advancement of 5G technology. He said that with TIRAP having expanded to 60 employers and 12 officially recognized apprenticeships, he would use the association’s experience in workforce development in the telecommunications industry to support the committee’s mission.