Words by Bridget Foster.
Expanded Initiative Provides Civilian Hi-Tech Certifications to Servicemembers
As the wireless industry expands and upgrades the nation’s wireless facilities and mobile networks, it is estimated that 8,000 to 10,000 jobs will need to be filled over the next two to three years. Unfortunately, according to industry executives, it is also becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified and trained individuals to meet this need.
At the same time, more than 1 million servicemembers will be transitioning from active duty to civilian life as the military reduces its forces. Many are IT specialists with training and skills that are relevant to the wireless industry, such as wireless deployment, maintenance and technical support, but they lack the certifications required by employers in the industry that would reflect their skills and experience. This makes it difficult for them to secure employment in the telecommunications field.
Recognizing the need to bridge the gap between these two worlds, a pilot program called Warriors4Wireless was launched in 2012. Initially focused on the industry’s need for skilled tower-climbers to deploy telecommunications equipment and facilities, the program trained and placed over 50 participants. Building on this success, as well as the Obama Administration’s April 2013 call for the industry to facilitate civilian training, Warriors4Wireless was expanded to a national initiative this past November.
The expanded nonprofit program is a partnership between the federal government, the armed forces, wireless companies and industry trade associations. The program is open to all veterans and servicemembers with an interest in the wireless communications field and is being facilitated by Joining Forces, a national initiative providing support to military members and their families, and coordinators with the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program. They will be responsible for identifying qualifying candidates as well as publicizing job openings in the field.
Warriors 4Wireless will provide training, advanced certifications and the support needed for servicemembers to translate their military experience to civilian careers. According to news reports, the nonprofit has committed to recruiting, training, certifying and finding jobs for 5,000 veterans over the next three years. In addition to wireless certifications, the program aims to provide entry-level skills training for other telecommunications jobs as well. They expect to find placement for 100% of participants within ninety days of completing the program.
As part of the expanded initiative:
“Connecting veterans with jobs in the wireless telecommunications industry will have far-reaching benefits,” said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.