Our training program vision here at Norvado is to ensure that our technicians keep up with changing network infrastructure equipment and the business and home networks at our customers’ premises.
Training delivery is a blend of tradeshow conferences, vendor-specific training, employee subject matter experts, classroom certifications, and encouraging individuals to keep up with industry trends through reading industry publications. We also do the best we can to rotate personnel to attend the State Telecom Association tradeshows, National conferences, and vendor user groups. These conferences educate on specific topics that are hot items. They also provide opportunities to learn from peers in order to network and share success stories, as well as what hasn’t been working.
As the network has evolved, one way we have kept up with the learning curve is by teaming up with test tool vendors to train best practices on everything from copper pair plant testing, customer wire qualifying, and certifying to fiber topics such as handling, cleaning, inspecting, splicing, and OTDR testing. These vendors have such deep knowledge that they bring much more to our technicians than simply how to operate a test meter and how to qualify a plant facility.
In-house training sessions utilize key employees internally to train their co-workers. Topics address high trouble ticket items as well as the latest technology changes. Examples include 3-hour sessions that cover topics such as VDSL2 bonding, wireless 802.11 AC and dual band routers, basic home networking, and dynamic bandwidth allocation. These training sessions support a better team environment while they encourage learning from each other and to look within for the first call for support. Getting together like this also forms common use and knowledge of where information should be stored on our collaboration sites.
The biggest challenge over the past 10 years had been bringing technicians up to speed on computer hardware, software, and networking skills. The demographics of our technicians show a very wide spread of generations. That means some technicians did not grow up with a computer at all, while others have lived with them their entire life. It is imperative to take telephone plant technicians and train them to become hybrid telephone and I.T. technicians capable of supporting plant as well as computers and networks.
In 2008, we began with a goal to get all of our technicians Certiport IC3 certified. IC3 is a globally recognized Digital Literacy Certification. It is comprised of 3 individual exams in computing fundamentals, key applications, and living online, and established for us a strong foundation for this type of learning and obtaining additional certifications. It didn’t come easy initially.
“These training sessions support a better team environment while encouraging learning from each other and to look within for the first call for support.”
The process of establishing the foundation started with a run of online training delivery followed by an exam that achieved approximately 30% certification. We followed this with internal employee delivered classroom sessions once a week on each section along with an exam. After this we achieved approximately 80% certification.
The next certification steps were to obtain CompTIA A+, NET+, and, finally, Security+. This time around we worked with the local technical college, and developed a blended classroom and homework method followed by exam. Both A+ and NET+ courses have achieved approximately 70% certification rates using this method.
Security+ was scheduled to begin in January 2016.
We are also looking into future MEF CECP and SIP School SSCA certification training paths.
Along with this intensive training, we wanted to showcase their talents internally and to our customers.
In 2011 we implemented ID badges for technicians that would be worn in the office as well as outside at customer locations. These are still used today, and serve as both a security verification for customers as well as to show the qualifications of our technicians while also serving as a great marketing tool.
We are very happy with the results of our education program. We believe certifications are important but are also pleased with those who participated but have not yet earned them. We believe both groups continue to gain knowledge along the way.
By Johnny Falt
Norvado has offered many training opportunities for technicians like me. For example, I have attended Zhone MXK certification training which is our Access platform equipment supplying our customers with FTTH, SHDSL, and VDSL/ADSL Bonded services. This was helpful, as it is equipment I work with every day, and it’s critical to know how to work with it to troubleshoot efficiently.
The Company has offered in-house training that is not only beneficial for me as an employee but also allows us as a company to have more qualified technicians to improve outage time and customer service. One of the first certification training the Company offered was IC3 Training, which improved my knowledge of the Internet and the 3 Microsoft Apps that we use daily in our work environment.
Additionally, the Company has supplied us with training to become Net+ and A+ CompTIA certified which is a recognized certification worldwide. From a customer standpoint, these certifications show that we are the best-trained technician available.
We also hold monthly technician meetings to get training on meters, installation methods, and safety. All of this is appreciated as technology is always changing, and there are always new methods of installation and testing techniques.
The Company has encouraged me to take courses either online or onsite to keep my certifications current and up to date. I appreciate this training as it helps keep me on top of all the technology changes. I also look forward to more training that the Company will be offering, as I enjoy gaining more knowledge in the ever-changing communications and technology field.
I have been in the industry for 6 years now, and it is amazing how much has changed in my short time here. Learning is an endless job, but there is always the reward of satisfaction of learning how something works.
Johnny Falt is Network/Central Office Technician, Norvado. Falt began his career with Norvado 6 years ago, as an Install-repair technician for 4 years, and has been a Network/Central Office Technician for 2 years. For more information, please visit www.norvado.com.