Ohio plans to build out its broadband network to provide service to 618,000 residents who lack service and officials announced last week that technician training is part of the plan. Government Technology reported that last week Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced the creation of a new fiber-optic technician training program, part of the state’s Strengthening Ohio’s Broadband and 5G Workforce strategy.
“It sounds great to say we’re going to build all of this, but you can’t build it without actually having a workforce,” Husted said. “We can’t say we’re going to spend billions on this in the country and install a bunch of new infrastructure if you don’t build the workforce to actually get the job done.”
According to Husted, the state expects to receive $500 million in funding for broadband over the next two years. Deploying 5G will create approximately 107,000 jobs statewide. The state invested $30,000 to get the training program up and running, with additional investments from the private sector. Training will begin in October, according to Husted, and is open to high school students and adults.
The Tri-County Career Center (TCCC), which will administer training, aims to give students the skill set needed to install and splice fiber-optics to build new networks. Husted told Government Technology that the state would spread awareness of the program among K-12 school students.
“It’s designed for anybody who would like to have a career as a broadband technician,” Husted added. “It’s a great opportunity for high school students, but it’s structured in a way to invite more people than just a high school student.”
Ohio-based broadband provider Horizon supports the TCCC and plans to hire graduates, according to Husted. First-year salaries are estimated to start at $60,000.
“That’s a really good job in Appalachia, and that’s the place we’re going to be putting in a lot of this infrastructure,” he said. “These are the kinds of skills that are going to have value in the marketplace for a long time.”
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