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Telecom: A Fresh Start for Dislocated Workers

Instructor Bill Carson reviews a cable connection exercise with student Tyler Shannon.
9/17/2009 —

DuBois – Another victim of the recession, Mike Davies was laid off from his job as a press operator with Case Cutlery in Bradford in July.  He went to open interviews at Career Link offices, and searched the classifieds, and quickly learned just how tough the current job market is.  Then, a family member gave him a pamphlet describing the Telecommunications Technologies Certificate Program.  Davies saw that earning this certificate could open new doors in work that appeals to him.


"It's hands-on, and that's my thing," Davies said.  "I don't want to sit in a cubicle staring at a computer screen all day." 


So, Davies signed up for the 105 hour course at Penn State DuBois and set out on a new career path.  Though currently working to complete the course, he has already started applying for jobs in his new field.


"My ultimate goal is to get into fiber optic installation and repair, and this program will prepare me for that," he said. 


Those who earn the industry recognized certificate will, in fact, be qualified for jobs in some of the fastest growing fields in the country including telephone and computer networking, cable and satellite system operation and repair, and more.


Continuing Education Representative Jeannine Hanes explained the stability of the telecommunications field, even during the current state of the economy.  "The telecommunications field continues to grow," she said.  "Broadband technology is not only a key piece of the Federal economic stimulus package, but a necessity for rural Pennsylvania to be sustainable through these tough economic conditions." 


"The telecom industry has grown exponentially in recent years, and will continue to do so," said course instructor Bill Carlson.  "The industry needs more qualified workers because people want more information and more knowledge today," Carlson explained, noting the ever-growing use of the internet and social media.  "To get that knowledge to the people, we need more sophisticated cable systems," he said. 


Carlson teaches his students about the latest in cable and fiber optic technology with a hands-on approach, using Advanced Cable Trainers (ACT) kits.  They include various cables, connectors and components that students would see on the job in the real world. Students use real tools to work with the kits, simulating actual repair or installation of telecom systems.


"I like this.  It's a lot of fun and it's interesting," said student Tyler Shannon, of Clearfield, who also appreciates the hands-on lessons.  Shannon hopes to use the skills he learns here to help him become a successful entrepreneur.  "I have a background in electrical work," he said.  "I'm hoping to expand on those skills and eventually be my own electrical contractor." 


For more information, contact Jeannine Hanes at (814) 375-4859, or jhanes@psu.edu

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