ATX field training program seeks to replenish cable industry technical workforce

Nov. 14, 2022
ATX Networks says a new collaboration with community colleges is aimed at replenishing, evolving and growing the cable industry's technical workforce.

ATX Networks, a global specialist in broadband access and media distribution technology, today unveiled its Field Personnel Replenishment Program (FPRP), a cable technician training initiative spearheaded by the company’s recently expanded professional services organization.

Per a company announcement, the program’s mission is to work with community colleges and other vocational training centers to supply the cable industry with a steady flow of qualified field technicians necessary to overcome severe labor shortages and assist cable MSOs in the completion of their ambitious HFC evolution projects.

As stated by the company, the ATX-developed curriculum, which adds another four to eight weeks of cable-specific training onto an already intensive electrical lineworker training program, produces graduates with a ready-to-hire skillset, including a commercial driver’s license, the ability to operate a bucket truck, proficiency in coax and fiber splicing, meter reading and other skills needed to upgrade and maintain cable plants.

Bob Murphy, sr. vice president of business services at ATX, commented:

“Our MSO customers tell us daily that the biggest obstacle in their path to keeping customers happy and competitors at bay over the next several years is access to a robust and highly-skilled workforce. Like any good partner, ATX immediately recognized that in addition to supplying the cable community with the technology and equipment required to revitalize their networks, we also needed to help MSOs field a workforce capable of getting all this innovation installed and turned up without costly delays.”

The company's announcement further explained that the goal of the FPRP is to place graduates with cable operators, third-party contractors that partner with ATX or directly with ATX.

Meanwhile, ATX is currently working to expand the FPRP to additional colleges and vocational facilities, with the objective of finding educational partners across the U.S. to create and feed a much-needed pipeline of skilled cable technicians.

Program background

ATX emphasized that its FPRP initiative was created to alleviate existing resource constraints by injecting a new generation of skilled technicians into the workforce as the broadband industry enters another expansion cycle.

The company notes that the labor pool of skilled technicians has been shrinking for the past several years. Many of the workers hired by cable operators roughly two decades ago, coinciding with their last major network expansion, have retired, taking with them the knowledge required to extend the bandwidth and speed of existing HFC networks.

The depletion of the existing workforce poses a significant challenge to cable operators, contends the company, many of which have been pressed into accelerating plant upgrades in the face of unprecedented challenges from fiber overbuilders and FTTH service providers recently buoyed by a massive wave of public funding for broadband infrastructure expansion.

The company maintains that MSOs will need hundreds, if not thousands, of new workers to ensure cable operators can upgrade their networks fast enough to go head-to-head with fiber operators and other competitors over the next decade or longer.

Among ATX’s initial FPRP partners is Cape Fear Community College (CFCC), a North Carolina educational facility with a mission to provide high-quality, dynamic, innovative, educational, cultural, training and workforce development opportunities to individuals and local businesses and industries.

ATX’s FPRP presents graduates of CFCC’s lineworker training program with the opportunity to take an additional, ATX-designed, training course that will augment their education with cable-specific job skills.

Emily Holt, director of workforce readiness programs at CFCC, said:

“The program has been a huge success to this point and we’re looking forward to working with ATX to provide future students with the skills to secure important and financially rewarding careers in the technology industry for years to come. Many of our students are veterans and other adults looking to expand their vocational opportunities while making a valuable contribution to society. This program is a win-win for our community and the cable industry.”

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