Job Corps will initially offer the pilot program at its Oneonta, N.Y. campus. The partnership would significantly broaden the availability of the OpTIC Path program across the nation as more Job Corps campuses adopt it.
The potential to scale the technical workforce needed to bring fiber to more communities is compelling about the agreement. Job Corps could offer the OptTIC path program at all its 120 U.S. campuses to become the second-largest producer of OpTIC Path graduates.
Creating career opportunities
As the nation’s most extensive free residential career training and education program for income-eligible adults ages 16 through 24, Job Corps has helped individuals achieve careers in fast-growing industries.
The organization will offer the OpTIC Path course under its Underground Residential Distribution and Overhead Line Construction program tracks.
“Fiber technicians are in high demand across the country, so the addition of the OpTIC Path course provides a great opportunity for our students to train for a career that is highly competitive and valued,” said Thayne Bodenmiller, Center Director at Oneonta Job Corps. “We look forward to launching OpTIC Path and helping train the next generation of fiber broadband technicians.”
Closing the labor gap
While there’s industry-wide recognition that fiber will bring new capabilities in speed to enable current and future applications, there’s a gap in available labor to build these networks.
FBA created the OpTIC Path program in 2021 to develop a training credential and strengthen the fiber broadband workforce. The fiber broadband industry is experiencing its most significant investment cycle ever, and service providers across the U.S. are looking to build or expand fiber networks.
The OpTIC Path program provides an in-depth training course that can be delivered by schools, colleges, training centers, and employers to develop the talent needed to deploy fiber networks and connect communities to high-performance broadband safely and efficiently.
“Adding Job Corps to our OpTIC Path community marks a monumental milestone for our workforce development efforts,” said Deborah Kish, VP of research and workforce development at the Fiber Broadband Association. “Job Corps is powerful in its ability to connect young adults with successful careers and connect industries to expertly trained technicians—that is exactly what the fiber industry needs today.”
FBA is making progress with its OpTIC Path program. The organization is currently engaged with 40 states, 44 service providers, and 70 community colleges and training institutions to roll out the OpTIC Path program. Electric cooperatives in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Tennessee, and Oklahoma have adopted or are interested in the program. The OpTIC Path program is also gaining support from employers across the fiber broadband industry, working closely with schools and training facilities so they can hire certified technicians as soon as they are ready to enter the workforce.