May 2, 2017 —
The nonprofit that recruits, trains and places veterans into the wireless industry, Warriors4Wireless (W4W), is set to dramatically increase the amount of seasoned talent that it infuses into the development of broadband networks, Major General Kevin J. Kennedy, president of the nonprofit, told an audience at the Wireless West Conference in April.
“In the past three years, W4W has placed 1,000 veterans in the wireless industry. Based on the needs in the wireless industry we could triple that,” Kennedy said. “We are trying to take what Kelley Dunne (Executive Chairman and Co-founder) did with W4W and scale it up. It not only does great things for veterans but it does great things for the wireless industry.”
Kennedy joined W4W in February as Senior Advisor to the CEO and just recently became president of the organization. His 32 years of wartime service included tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 3,600 hours of operational flying, including 145 hours flown in combat. In addition, he served as Director of Joint Strategic Planning at U.S. Strategic Command, Senior In-country Air Force Strategist and Advisor to the Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, and Commander of the U.S. Air Force Global Cyberspace Integration Center.
Kennedy noted that veterans receive $100,000 to $200,000 worth of training during their tours in the military, making them potentially highly skilled assets. He told a story about meeting a man who was working for a moving company, but during his active duty he served the Air Force climbing towers and as a certified electrician maintaining systems at a base overseas.
“When I told him what he could do in the wireless industry as opposed to the moving industry, he jumped at the chance,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy wants to begin a dialogue with the wireless industry concerning its personnel needs. For W4W to be a successful conduit to funnel veterans into the wireless industry, he said, it must have up-to-date knowledge of the positions that need to be filled. He called out to the industry to inform him of their labor needs.
“It all starts with our industry partners telling us what types of jobs that you would like to hire a veteran into,” he said. “We then go back to the military and line up people, put them through the right training so we can place them with you. I need you to help me if I am going to help you.”
Verticom Helping with W4W Training
Verticom, which designs, develops and maintains broadband networks, has been selected as the southern regional training facility by W4W. Jeff Lewis, president and founder, noted that the wireless industry is going run into a labor shortage as next generation networks are built out and filling the openings will go beyond tower climbers to include a spectrum of communications technicians and professionals.
“We are taking the tower climbers that they want to be trained, but we are expanding the program to include the whole ecosystem, including fiber splicers, fiber testers, project managers and coordinators, civil, electrical and installation technicians, and more,” Lewis said.
Beyond tower climbers, the industry needs to focus on adding engineers and real estate professionals, he added.
“For 5G and IoT, we need real estate professionals with pole attachment and rights of way experience,” Lewis said. “With the training we are doing at Verticom, we are trying to look 12 to 36 months out when the big demand for labor in wireless is going to hit.”
As a volunteer for W4W, Lewis is putting together the business model that will allow the organization to grow through the addition of regional training centers located across the nation.
“I think it is something great for the wireless industry,” he said. “Returning vets are sometimes forgotten. We are trying to give them purpose and meaning again for their lives, placing them in the industry so they can provide for their families.”