The Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) is a competency-based apprenticeship program aimed at growing the productivity and safety of the telecommunications workforce. TIRAP defines career paths in a growing number of occupations critical to deployment of broadband and currently offers 15 occupations recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The telecommunications industry faces a skills gap that poses serious threats to the nation’s ability to expand wireless broadband coverage in urban, suburban and rural areas and to build 5G networks. 5G is expected to create 4.6 million new jobs in next fifteen years and we need to invest in training talent for these jobs in a timely manner. Quality registered apprenticeships have five components:
- Apprentices must be a paid employee at the company.
- The program must include on-the-job learning and work-based learning.
- The program must have related training instruction, i.e., classroom learning.
- Apprentices must have mentors.
- Apprenticeships must lead to a credential that is nationally recognized by DOL.
Most employers see improved productivity and a positive impact to their bottom line. Other employer benefits include reduced turnover because employees have a career path within the company. About 94% of apprentices continue working with their employer following the completion of the apprenticeship. However, the certificate is portable so goes with the employee if he or she decide to change jobs.
Telecom occupations under the Department of Labor are:
- Telecommunications Tower Technician
- Wireless Technician
- Telecommunications Tower Antenna & Line Lead
- Telecommunications Tower Antenna & Line Foreman
- Telecommunications Tower Construction Lead
- Telecommunications Tower Construction Foreman
- Maintenance & Condition Assessment Lead
- Maintenance & Condition Assessment Foreman
- Fiber Optic Technician
- Underground Utility Installer Technician
- Overhead Utility Installer Technician
- Small Cell Technician
- Telecommunications Utility Foreman
- In Building Wireless Technician
- Broadband Technician