March 5, 2015 — Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Kalamazoo, Michigan-based member of the National Association of Tower Erectors, has launched a training academy for cell tower technicians, with classes beginning mid-April 2015.
The curriculum will include classroom instruction, demonstration and laboratory practice in worksite safety, electrical basics, fasteners, cell site basics, lines and antennas, RF fundamentals, computer skills and fiber-optics.
“Trainees will leave the six-week program well prepared for employment. Training to develop the skills needed to perform this work safely is a key component of the program,” the program brochure says.
Along with support from NATE, the KVCC program has garnered the support of local businesses such as Newkirk Electric and Earthcom, a Michigan-based communications contractor.
NATE has several community colleges as members that provide either comprehensive training programs or individual courses, including LakeShore Technical College, Cleveland, Wisconsin; and Corporate College (Western Iowa Tech Community College), Sioux City, Iowa.
“We are starting to see more tower technician training activity at community colleges, and I like that because it helps promote the profession as well as create another training pathway to bring workers into the industry,” said NATE Executive Director Todd Schlekeway. “I anticipate that we will continue to see more of these programs being developed in the future as organizations like PCIA work with Virginia State University to develop educational framework models that community colleges could potentially adopt.”\
Assessment and Certification Group Formed
The Wireless Industry Safety Task Force has created the National Wireless Safety Alliance (NWSA) to certify the industry’s workforce to the various worker categories outlined in the national wireless skills-based training standard that is currently being developed.
The 501(c)(6) assessment and certification organization will be the governance arm of the task force’s national wireless skills-based training standard, providing independent assessments of knowledge and skills and verifiable certification for professionals who work on towers and at tower sites. The NWSA will serve workers who have completed training programs, including third-party private training, internal company training programs and local community college training.
The development of the standard continues. The task force’s skills-based training subcommittee has developed a skills-based training standard that outlines the minimum competencies and skills required for five categories of workers in the industry: helper/ground worker, ground technician, Telecommunications Tower Technician I, Telecommunications Tower Technician II and General Lead/Foreman.
Additionally, the task force is developing three specialized foreman tracks that will be added to the National Wireless Skills-Based Training Standard. The three are the worker categories of antenna and line foreman, tower construction (stacking foreman), and structural modifications foreman. Plans are in the works for other specialized worker tracks to be developed and added to the standard in the future.
Within the standard, each worker category has a list of both knowledge-based and competency-based skills that the tower technician will need to master to be capable of performing that scope of work. Upon completion, the standard will be broken down by each work category and will be made available to the industry, so that community colleges, such as KVCC, will be able to see what the workers are required to know in order to be certified.
“The National Wireless Skills-Based Training Standard will serve as a playbook that will ultimately improve the various training programs’ ability to prepare individuals for assessment and certification and subsequently the employers’ ability to hire qualified workers,” Schlekeway said.