Erie County Community College Accelerates Fiber Tech Training with OpTIC Path

College partners with Fiber Broadband Association and VNet Fiber to train fiber technicians and connect communities.

WASHINGTON – The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) today announced Erie County Community College is now offering FBA’s Optical Telecom Installer Certification (OpTIC Path) program. The course will train the skilled fiber technicians needed to expand local fiber networks in and around Erie, PA, and connect their communities to high-performance broadband services.

Many service providers across the country are looking to build or expand fiber broadband networks and take advantage of the opportunity that the NTIA’s $42.45 billion BEAD fund creates. However, there is a shortage of skilled technicians capable of deploying the fiber that can connect America to high-quality broadband. FBA’s OpTIC Path program works to eliminate this workforce shortage so that the fiber broadband industry can close the digital equity gap.

FBA is currently engaged with 39 states to roll out the OpTIC Path program. A total of 40 service providers, 67 community colleges and training institutions, and electric cooperatives in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Tennessee, and Oklahoma have either adopted or are interested in the program. The program is gaining support from employers across the fiber broadband industry, working closely with schools and training facilities so they can hire certified technicians as soon as they are ready to enter the workforce.

Erie County Community College is America’s newest community college and is focused on workforce development in northwest Pennsylvania. It is partnering with VNet Fiber, the region’s only locally owned and operated internet service provider. Graduates of the OpTIC Path program will create a pipeline of talent that will support VNet Fiber’s plans to expand its fiber optic network by 100%.

“The OpTIC Path program will deliver new job opportunities for Erie County that will have an immediate and long-lasting impact on workforce development,” said Rebecca Walker, Dean of Workforce Development at Erie County Community College. “This course is an exciting addition to our school, and we look forward to seeing certified technicians help connect our communities for years to come.”

“In order to meet our growth goals, it is critical that we maintain a fluid pipeline of skilled fiber technicians. The OpTIC Path program and our partnership with Erie County Community College will accomplish that,” said Matt Wiertel, Director of Sales and Business Development for VNet Fiber. “This collaboration will ensure that we can safely deploy fiber to our communities, maintain efficiency, and ensure our residents and businesses have access to high-quality broadband.”

“Our industry must first build a solid fiber technician workforce before it can officially close the digital equity gap,” said Deborah Kish, Vice President of Research and Workforce Development at the Fiber Broadband Association. “The OpTIC Path program provides the tools needed for any school, college, or other training facility to effectively train skilled fiber technicians.”



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