FCC’s Carr Sees Community Colleges as Key to 5G Workforce Initiative

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FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr announced a tower workforce initiative with community colleges Thursday, as a way to expedite the 5G rollout. He visited the Tower Installation Program at Aiken Technical College in Graniteville, SC. He identified the need for more Telecom Tower Technicians (TTT-1s). Tower companies tell him that hiring a TTT-1 reduces training time and churn, and saves them money that can be put toward other purposes like hiring more workers and deploying infrastructure.

In an interview with Inside Towers, Carr said he hopes the multi-week program at Aikin can be replicated across the country, and he’s working to accomplish that goal. He described meeting two recent graduates, who were offered jobs while he was at the College. Carr climbed a 90-foot training tower yesterday.

Carr has traveled the country, and seen firsthand, the work that tower climbers do to install telecommunications infrastructure. Wireless crews tell him they estimate there needs to be an additional 20,000 skilled workers to complete the 5G deployment, he told Inside Towers.

The seven-week program at Aiken provides climbers with a mix of physical, safety, and technical skills to land a good-paying job in this field, according to the Commissioner.  The program trains students in accordance with the standards and internationally-recognized certifications, including TTT-1, established by the National Wireless Safety Alliance. As an accredited program, students have access to Pell Grants, VA funding, and other tuition assistance programs.

Carr also visited a small cell concealment facility in North Charleston Thursday, where workers manufacture small cell and smart pole infrastructure. The company is repurposing a former warehouse and has only been open six months, but is providing many 5G jobs, according to the Commissioner.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

April 19, 2019

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