July 14, 2022
As demand for fiber optic technicians and installers grows with the widespread deployment of new and upgraded fiber networks, training the next generation of skilled workers is becoming increasingly critical.
Recently, PLP, along with representatives from the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA), Corning Optical Communications, OFS, and the city of Wilson's Greenlight Community Broadband, spent a week facilitating hands-on training at Wilson Community College as part of a new training program for those interested in pursuing a career in the fiber optic industry.
The hands-on portions of the classes are a key component of the FBA OpTIC (Optical Telecom Installation Certification) Path, a program designed to help participants build the basic knowledge and skills needed to become an entry-level fiber optic technician. After the program, the graduates can continue to build their knowledge with on-the-job training and by taking additional classes to hone their skills.
“There is a significant gap between the amount of work to be completed and the number of quality fiber technicians available to do that work,” explained Brendan O’Boyle, PLP’s Western Region sales manager for communications markets. “Government funding for broadband expansion is now abundant, but the skilled technicians to do that work are scarce. PLP and other FBA members recognize this problem and have responded by combining resources to support this training program. Its success will help the industry continue to thrive and provide the skilled workers we need to build the fiber optic network of tomorrow.”
PLP's Brendan O'Boyle explains how to assemble a COYOTE® Splice Tray
To receive the certification, students must complete 144 hours of coursework created by the FBA to provide the knowledge, skills, and safety information technicians will need. The OpTIC Path includes classes that incorporate actual products from the field to help simulate the everyday challenges that technicians will face.
Pete DiCillo, a fiber optic product demonstrator for PLP who served as a trainer for the program, commented, “It is important for PLP to be a part of the next generation's training. Teaching hands-on classes for the OpTIC Path allows us to contribute to a great program, and our industry expertise can help technicians become better prepared for building products in the field.”
Beyond providing the skills needed to become a technician, the OpTIC Path also offers students an insider’s perspective on the vast number of career opportunities available in the rapidly growing fiber optic industry. Upon completion of the program, graduates will receive a three-year Optical Telecom Installation Certificate and a one-year membership to the FBA, which provides access to additional educational content and valuable networking opportunities to help newcomers grow their careers.
“PLP will celebrate its 75th anniversary this year, a milestone made possible by keeping our finger on the pulse of the industries we serve,” commented Dan Levac, the company’s national sales manager for communications markets. “As the fiber optic industry continues to grow, so too will the demand for products and skilled technicians to install those products. We recognize the importance of the Fiber Broadband Association’s OpTIC Path program and are proud to support and promote it.”
PLP's Dan Levac teaches students how to assemble a COYOTE® ONE closure