As the Internet continues to become more relevant and essential to our daily lives, it’s increasingly critical to ensure that telecommunications infrastructure is reliable, secure, and capable of meeting the demand. Paired with the rapid pace of technological advancement and the digital transformation of more and more industries and sectors, the world is facing a pressing need for a skilled workforce who can meet the demands of the 21st century economy.
That’s where workforce development comes in.
NTIA has created the Telecommunications Training and Workforce Development Best Practice Checklist to help support Eligible Entities as they’re developing their BEAD workforce plans. The checklist is designed to help select programs, partnerships, and activities for their plans that will collectively help them address the workforce requirements and guidance in the BEAD Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) and ensure that there is a skilled workforce prepared to connect the unserved and underserved.
In the coming months, this blog series will highlight a showcase of case studies that demonstrate use of the checklist across a range of programs offered by industry, higher education, and state partners. The series will highlight examples reflective of the diverse range of training programs currently in operation, including those run by nonprofit organizations, workforce intermediaries, private sector employers, labor unions, community and technical college systems, and industry associations, to name a few.
High-Speed Internet Application:
☒ Focused on fulfilling a need required for high-speed Internet deployment
☐ Industry-led sectoral partnership that brings together multiple partners, including employers, labor, and training providers
☒ Employer-led curriculum development
☐ Earn and learn model
☒ Stackable, industry-recognized credentials
☐ Local hire
☒ Recruit from underserved communities
☒ Wrap-around services
☒ Measure and evaluate outcomes
☒ Have workforce needs
☒ Engaged in program design
☒ Recruit from underserved communities
☐ Local hire
☒ Skills-based assessment of applicants
☒ Provide living wages and benefits
The Louisiana Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity, or ConnectLA, is the state’s broadband office. ConnectLA coordinates federal, state, and municipal efforts identifying best practices and executing tactics to eliminate the digital divide by 2029.
ConnectLA strongly believes in the importance of employment opportunities to uplift disadvantaged communities throughout the state of Louisiana and has a strong educational partner in the Louisiana Community & Technical College System (LCTCS). LCTCS has a track record of developing partnerships with industries to fill current gaps and anticipate future needs. Many companies cited challenges they’re facing in trying to find talent to work in the construction, maintenance, and operational fields required to deploy broadband projects.
ConnectLA has encouraged their grant recipients to partner with LCTCS in developing workforce development plans. The colleges work with companies to determine specific skill sets, target areas, and skill levels that each partner needs to fulfill their broadband projects. Community and technical colleges have identified some major points of demand, including training for fiber optic construction, point-to-point installation and logistics, and project management.
Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) partnered with AT&T to develop a Certified Fiber Optics Technician bootcamp, an intensive 3-day course designed for students interested in becoming a Certified Fiber Optic Technician. The course introduces students to industry standards governing FTTD (Fiber To The Desk), FTTH (Fiber To The Home), and Distribution Cabling. Students learn how to identify fiber types, recognize various connectors used in fiber installation and install, terminate, splice, and properly test installed fiber cable to existing standards.
Industry-based Credentials (IBCs) are embedded in all the curricula being delivered to meet the broadband workforce needs and the college works with industry associations and certifying bodies to provide third-party oversight of the quality of the training provided and the competencies developed. LCTCS also provides a matrix for IBCs that allow these certifications to be applied to credit programs when students wish to take their learning and apply it to an academic credential.
AT&T was involved in the curriculum development from the start and provided BPCC with a regional network manager with over 20 years of experience on the construction side of their business to meet with the college to discuss their strategy and to visit training sessions, consulting with the instructors. Employee volunteers have also assisted in identifying equipment and supplies needed. AT&T will continue to identify instructors for the course.
BPCC will soon deliver a fiber optic technician course in Spanish. BPCC has also delivered fiber optic technician training as part of the Re-Entry program at Caddo Correction Center in Shreveport and is working with the Department of Public Safety & Corrections to potentially expand this training to other Re-Entry programs throughout the State. All students have access to BPCC’s Cavalier Care Center, a clearinghouse for a host of wrap-around services aimed at ensuring their students have the greatest chance for success, including a laptop loan program, Career Closet program, and information on affordable childcare, housing, and more.
Download the Workforce Planning Guide
The Workforce Planning Guide supports Eligible Entities developing submissions to Internet for All programs. It supports the development of workforces for grant implementation as well as designing workforce plans and standards for subgrantees.