The Divide: FBA's Deborah Kish on filling out the fiber workforceThe Divide: FBA's Deborah Kish on filling out the fiber workforce
This week: The Fiber Broadband Association's Deborah Kish joins the podcast to discuss the state of the fiber workforce. Kish shares progress made on the FBA's OpTIC Path program and why veterans make up a large portion of that program and fiber jobs overall.
At a Glance
- State of the fiber workforce and where the biggest needs are (01:05)
- Details on the FBA's OpTIC Path program and its growth over the last year (06:45)
- Why veterans are interested in and ideal for a future in fiber (10:10)
This episode features Deborah Kish, vice president of research and workforce development at the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA). As fiber network builds increase across the US – soon to be further propelled by the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program – concern has been growing about workforce needs and a lack of interest in the field.
Earlier this year, the FBA released a Broadband Workforce Development Guidebook in which it estimated that 205,000 fiber optic technicians will be required across the US over the next five years. "States are unlikely to have faced a labor shortage similar to that facing the BEAD program," said the guidebook.
To that end, the FBA has been working toward growing the fiber workforce through its "OpTIC Path" fiber technician training program, which it's hosting in partnership with community colleges, learning institutions and ISPs.
In this episode, FBA's Deborah Kish provides an update on that program's progress since its official launch last year, and the state of the fiber workforce overall. On the heels of Veteran's Day, we also discuss how FBA is attracting veterans to its program through strategic partnerships and why veterans are making up a significant portion of the fiber workforce and OpTIC Path program.
Here are a few topics covered in this episode:
State of the fiber workforce and where the biggest needs are (01:05)
Why there's been a lack of interest in the field (03:05)
How to get young people interested in working in fiber (05:11)
Details on the FBA's OpTIC Path program and its growth over the last year (06:45)
Why veterans are interested in and ideal for a future in fiber (10:10)
Lessons learned from running the OpTIC Path program and changes made so far (12:50)
For a lightly edited transcript, click the caption button on the video player above. Learn more about the OpTIC Path program here.
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