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Back to School Angst

Sept. 30, 2022
The telecom industry desperately needs workers who can design, engineer, install and manage these networks of the future.

You thought I meant for your kids, right? Not quite.

With the US and private sector investing billions in broadband deployments, the telecom industry desperately needs workers who can design, engineer, install and manage these networks of the future. We’re talking about 850,000 new jobs needing to be filled by the end of 2025.

Leaders like Charter Communications CEO, Tom Rutledge, recently shared a stark statement about this during a MoffettNathanson Investor Conference. “There is no labor pool there. For all the construction that must be done, there is no skilled labor force that is currently out there doing it that can be repurposed. It has to be built and trained.”

Sure, Charter is a cable MSO. But, if cable feels the strain, telco angst is likely greater. In response, our industry is creating training opportunities like:

  • FBA’s OpTIC program teaches skills required to professionally install, test, and maintain high-speed fiber broadband networks.
  • LUS Fiber, a city-owned telecom in Louisiana, is working with South Louisiana Community College (SLCC) to launch a fiber optic install technician training program.
  • Corning and AT&T are partnering to offer a program that focuses on training for optical fiber network design, hands-on splicing, connectorization and field construction.

In theory, these efforts should help over time given peoples’ interests in upskilling and reskilling. According to a Gallup-Amazon study, workers today are on a mission to remain relevant. Nearly 50% surveyed say they are interested in a new job if it offers training opportunities. What’s more, 65% of them say they seek employer-provided upskilling when evaluating a potential new job.

So, if the interest level is not the issue, what is? Real life perhaps?

I question how folks will do their “day job”—then upskill, reskill, raise their families, AND feel they have any semblance of a balanced life.

Let’s be brutally honest. We’re asking a lot of people. The most earnest workers with an exceptional work ethic may be able to run this upskilling marathon for a time. But is the pace sustainable?

Before we offer well-meaning advice for those who “should” take advantage of the industry’s programs, let me pose an uncomfortable question. Would you be open to juggling all of this at the same time?

My answer? Like many other opportunities—show me the money.


For more information or to submit an article, please email Sharon at [email protected] or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About the Author

Sharon Vollman | Editor-in-Chief, ISE Magazine

Sharon Vollman is Editor-in-Chief of ISE Magazine. She oversees the strategic direction and content for ISE Magazine. She also leads the educational content development for ISE EXPO. Vollman has created educational partnerships with the major communications and entertainment providers including AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Frontier Communications and Cincinnati Bell. She has covered the telecom industry since 1996. Prior to that, she worked in advertising with Ogilvy & Mather and CME. Vollman has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Advertising from the University of Iowa.