FBA Lends Workforce Development Expertise to NC Broadband Workforce Plan Advisory Committee

Deborah Kish expands FBA workforce development efforts with advisory role in North Carolina.

WASHINGTON, DC – The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) announced that Deborah Kish, FBA Vice President of Research and Workforce Development, has joined the NC Broadband Workforce Plan Advisory Committee convened by the NCDIT Division of Broadband & Digital Equity. FBA’s involvement in the Committee is its latest effort to ensure the fiber broadband industry has enough skilled technicians to safely and efficiently build the networks that will connect every community to reliable, high-quality broadband.

Many states are now working to develop five-year plans and initial proposals for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program fund. North Carolina will receive over $1.5 billion in BEAD allocations—the fifth largest amount given to any state. The state will invest these resources over the next five years to expand broadband access, but state leaders recognize a key to North Carolina’s broadband success is ensuring it has the skilled workforce it needs to deploy and maintain broadband technologies and networks.

The NC Broadband Workforce Plan Advisory Committee will develop a state broadband workforce plan. Committee members will collaborate on broadband labor market analyses, education and landscape scans, and implementation strategies.

“It is exciting to see every state receive allocations to improve fiber broadband infrastructure, and now is the time to ensure there is qualified labor to build that infrastructure,” said Kish. “I’m honored to work so closely with North Carolina—my home state—on its broadband workforce development plan. Not only do I understand critical local needs and challenges, but I am also offering my experience from within the fiber broadband industry. This will offer valuable insight as we create a plan to provide the critical connectivity that North Carolinians need to prosper.”

FBA has worked diligently to create its Optical Telecom Installer Certification (OpTIC Path) program to address the existing gap in skilled technicians capable of deploying fiber broadband. Kish helped create the OpTIC Path program and works with colleges and employers from across the country to offer the course. FBA is currently engaged with 39 states to roll out the OpTIC Path program with 40 service providers, 67 community colleges and training institutions, and electric cooperatives in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. The program is also 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.


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