As the Internet continues to become more relevant and essential to our daily lives, it’s increasingly critical to ensure that telecommunications infrastructure is reliable, secure, and capable of meeting the demand. Paired with the rapid pace of technological advancement and the digital transformation of more and more industries and sectors, the world is facing a pressing need for a skilled workforce who can meet the demands of the 21st century economy.
That’s where workforce development comes in.
NTIA has created the Telecommunications Training and Workforce Development Best Practice Checklist to help support Eligible Entities as they’re developing their BEAD workforce plans. The checklist is designed to help select programs, partnerships, and activities for their plans that will collectively help them address the workforce requirements and guidance in the BEAD Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) and ensure that there is a skilled workforce prepared to connect the unserved and underserved.
This blog series highlights a showcase of case studies that demonstrate use of the checklist across a range of programs offered by industry, higher education, and state partners. The series will highlight examples reflective of the diverse range of training programs currently in operation, including those run by nonprofit organizations, workforce intermediaries, private sector employers, labor unions, community and technical college systems, and industry associations, to name a few.
High-Speed Internet Application:
☒ Focused on fulfilling a need required for high-speed Internet deployment
☒ Industry-led sectoral partnership that brings together multiple partners, including employers, labor, and training providers
☒ Employer-led curriculum development
☒ Earn and learn model
☐ Stackable, industry-recognized credentials
☐ Local hire
☒ Recruit from underserved communities
☐ Wrap-around services
☒ Measure and evaluate outcomes
☒ Have workforce needs
☒ Engaged in program design
☒ Recruit from underserved communities
☐ Local hire
☒ Skills-based assessment of applicants
☒ Provide living wages and benefits
Verizon and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) have collective bargaining agreements in place that, among other things, provide for high quality training programs. In particular, Labor and Management committees cooperate and provide input on personal and career development, training and curriculum, program recommendations, program evaluation, and employee participation. Currently, the average tenure for unionized employees is 22.6 years, and Verizon prides itself on offering high-quality training, wages, and benefits. Unionized employees typically reach top wages at Verizon after five years of service, and ample training is available to ensure that Verizon employees continuously grow their skills and knowledge.
New employees at Verizon are required to complete extensive orientation, safety training, and skill training prior to transitioning into the field. Depending on the role, new hire training can last anywhere from 12 to 38 days.
Initial training for technicians consists of pole climbing and ladder handling, manhole safety, line construction, driver safety, tool and equipment handling safety training, and more. Upon completion of initial training, newly hired unionized technicians are paired with an experienced union-represented technician to receive mentorship and on-the-job training. After a manager deems the new employee competent to work independently, these technicians continue an additional 20+ hours of virtual training and 40-80 hours of mentorship/on-the-job training each year. Similarly, customer service representatives complete new hire orientation, formal customer service and technical training, as well as on-the-job shadowing and skills application prior to transitioning to independent work.
In addition to robust initial and continuous training programs, Verizon encourages its employees to further their expertise and develop their skillsets. The company’s tuition assistance program offers union-represented employees up to $8,000 in tuition assistance and access to a library of over 63,000 courses to encourage continuous learning. Moreover, certain collective bargaining agreements between Verizon and CWA specifically provide for “training and retraining programs to its employees for personal or career development and to employees being displaced to qualify for job vacancies as anticipated by the Company.”
As part of their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, Verizon actively recruits veterans and military spouses. As of March 2022, over 8% of the company’s union-represented workforce are veterans. Verizon holds talent acquisition diversity partnerships with organizations that assist them in recruiting a diverse workforce. Partnerships include the Military Spouse Network, the Wounded Warrior Project, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, Non-Traditional Employment for Women, Disability IN, and Out and Equal.
Download the Workforce Planning Guide
The Workforce Planning Guide supports Eligible Entities developing submissions to Internet for All programs. It supports the development of workforces for grant implementation as well as designing workforce plans and standards for subgrantees.