White House summit focuses on boosting technical training for the wireless industry

More than 60 wireless officials attended a summit at the White House last week to discuss the need to provide more technical training for workers in the wireless industry. The summit focused on two areas: improving wireless workforce training and attracting more military veterans to the industry.

Scott Kisting, the chairman of the governing board of the Telecommunications Workforce Training Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP), talked about apprenticeship opportunities like those that TIRAP offers. TIRAP is a consortium of telecom companies and industry associations that joined with the Department of Labor and the FCC last fall to unveil a public-private partnership that is designed to develop telecom apprenticeships.

The second major thrust of the summit was to get more military veterans involved in the industry. In an interview with FierceInstaller, PCIA President Jonathan Adelstein said that veterans represent a sizable body of highly professional, motivated individuals who could find opportunities in the wireless industry that would benefit employers and veterans alike.

Adelstein said that the focus of the apprenticeships and training was vocational in nature. He indicated that the strong growth of demand for wireless data has created demand for installers and technicians that are capable of carrying out wireless installations. The shortage of qualified installers is bad enough that some companies are poaching qualified talent from each other, Adelstein said.

Adelstein indicated that such training could take advantage of existing resources, such as the GI Bill, which provides educational funding for returning veterans, in addition to other benefits.

He added that deployments are becoming increasingly complex and said that installers need to have a background in "RF 101," so they can figure out when there is a problem, what the source of the problem might be and how it can be addressed.

Adelstein added that the entire wireless ecosystem came together for the summit, including major equipment makers like Samsung and Nokia, as well as representatives of tower and construction companies and system integrators. In addition to PCIA, other trade groups were also present.

Officials from the Department of Labor, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense, the FCC, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the White House National Economic Council and the White House Chief Technology Office were also in attendance.

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