TIRAP Graduate Credits Apprenticeship With Lighting His Telecom Path

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A tower technician from Hightower Communications Inc. described his experience as a graduate of a Telecom Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) with the Department of Labor this week. Jeremiah Gray is Assistant Operations Manager at Hightower Communications in North Carolina. WIA sponsors the TIRAP program nationally and WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein sits on the committee.

Hightower is a veteran-owned telecommunications construction and maintenance company with operations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia. It’s also an employer partner of TIRAP.

Gray described the value of an apprenticeship program with the DoL’s Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship on Monday. He was initially hired in 2015, to perform structural modifications of towers. Around 2017, he began to work on the telecom side of the company which deals with lines and antennas more than the structural components. That’s when he became a Registered Apprentice.

Gray credits TIRAP for helping him get to where he is with the company today. “TIRAP is different from any other training I have been through mostly because I have documented proof that shows that I have completed the proper training,” he told the group. “I have proof that I am without a doubt qualified to do the work that I have completed my apprenticeship for. And that I am, in fact, a journeyman at my trade.”

Gray said the structured path that TIRAP provided him was crucial to his growth and development of technical skills. “TIRAP not only provides pathways, processes, and milestones that need to be achieved, it also provides each employee with a mentor to give hands-on training to make sure the apprentice becomes proficient in these processes.”

“My training enabled me to become proficient at key tasks in tower modifications and line and antenna work. This made me well rounded in all aspects of the job. Perhaps most importantly, it allows me to mentor our new employees to an even higher standard,” he emphasized.

Gray completed the Telecommunications Tower Technician apprenticeship and then continued his training in two more apprenticeships, first as lead and then as foreman. Eventually, he worked his way up to his present position. “At some point in their training, I have a hand in mentoring most of the new hires at my branches in North Carolina,” as part of the TIRAP program, he explained.

He credits TIRAP for giving him a solid foundation in telecom. “It showed me where I was headed in the industry and a pathway on how to achieve these goals,” Gray explained.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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