By Erin Davis
Aug. 11, 2023
Original Article Link
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – A record number of Alabamians are training through the Alabama Community College System’s Skills for Success program for fiber optics technician and installer jobs.
“From Florence to Dothan, and everywhere in between, if someone is taking our course, they’ll be able to have that exact same training to install things the exact same way,” said Houston Blackwood, the Workforce Director for the ACCS’s Innovation Center.
The program launched a year ago, but Gov. Kay Ivey’s broadband announcement earlier this week is expected to drive more people to the program.
“You start at this spot, and then you can move into these different avenues. And so we show them hey, there’s a great benefit immediately, but also there’s a pathway for you professionally, and of course, financially,” said Blackwood.
Fiber optics technicians make $20-$25 per hour. Demand for these jobs is expected to increase by 8% by 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Once trained in Alabama, technicians will lay the fibers down on the state’s middle mile network, a series of wires that will bring broadband to underserved communities throughout the state.
“The type of people that do this, they like the adventure because they’re not putting this in easy places,” said Blackwood.
Fiber lines go in tunnels, under neighborhoods, and on power poles, but Blackwood says it’s a rewarding profession.
“They’re helping people. They’re making somebody’s life better because now they can do remote doctor visits, remote work, or just stay in touch with their family and so you bring that to people and that makes them happy,” he said.
The program is free thanks to allocations in the Education Trust Fund. During the last legislative session, lawmakers allocated $15 million.
To learn more about Skills for Success and to register for training, call 1-855-206-2671 or visit innovation.accs.edu.