Fiber/OSP Technician Training and Apprenticeship Programs

Hey all,

I've recently been working with our county's broadband task force,
investigating the expansion and equity of broadband networks on a
local and state level. Through that, it's become clear that there's a
painful shortage of fiber / outside plant technicians in the state of
Michigan (if not nation-wide) in order to fulfill the workforce
requirements of maintaining the current broadband fiber infrastructure
in the state, much less to fuel fiber expansion, and especially in
rural areas. There appear to be few options for training the required
workforce, especially outside of the large enterprises that have the
resources to run their own internal programs, and small (or even
mid-sized) ISPs seem to be left with predominantly informal
person-to-person transfer of internal knowledge, assuming that they
have the required internal knowledge in the first place. This need for
a qualified workforce is exacerbated in the face of the multitude of
state and federal programs to encourage broadband internet expansion
and equity, such as the upcoming $42.5 billion in BEAD grant funding
and corresponding construction starting in ~12-18 months state- and

As a result, our workforce development team over here at Mott
Community College (Genesee County, MI) is working to develop a fiber /
outside plant training and apprenticeship program in order to help
address this shortage of qualified personnel and training options at a
local and state level. We're looking for some industry contacts that
would be interested in collaborating with us to establish high-level
requirements regarding what skills need to be taught to prospective
fiber / outside plant technicians, what qualifications trainees should
have after completion in order to fulfill current workforce demands,
and to otherwise provide input in sketching out a high-level
curriculum. We're looking for feedback from a wide cross-section of
industry stakeholders -- large enterprise backbone transit providers,
rural residential ISPs, fiber co-ops and municipal networks,
operations and outside plant managers, etc. -- in order to determine
what the industry wants and needs, and how the entire community
college system can help meet those needs.

If anyone thinks that they have valuable input to provide regarding
these workforce requirements, or knows the right people to talk to,
please reach out and let me know!

Rhys Barrie (He/Him)
Network Engineer - Mott Community College
Member - Genesee County Broadband Task Force
(810) 762-0030 | |

I personally find college, for the most part, as a scam and simply a quick way to enter into debt. Yes there are exceptions, like everything.

I/We started doing fixed wireless in 2006 with no training. We started fiber to the home in 2019 with little training - a neighbor to the north showed us splicing to get us comfortable enough to try it ourselves. This does go back to your “person-to-person transfer of internal knowledge” of course, but with Youtube University it’s certainly doable if you’re willing. I’ve done light mechanical work on trucks/cars to avoid paying someone else. I know a great mechanic that had no help, no education, but was put in a place with no money and a broken car and they fixed it themselves. Necessity breeds innovation.

If you’re looking for input on your class I’m happy to provide you with some input at no cost to you. I still believe the average person willing to put in work can simply learn themselves, but maybe someone who is dead set on college would find their way into construction/OSP through your course.

The Fiber Optic Association may be of interest to you. "The FOA is an international non-profit educational association that is chartered to promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards."

I read a couple of their e-books to self-teach myself some fiber knowledge circa 2016 and it was good material.