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Local employer partners with WITC to fill worker shortage

PUSH, Inc. and WITC are partnering to offer the new utility construction technician program. WITC is accepting students to the two-semester program for the fall 2018 semester at the Rice Lake campus. Classes will start in October to accommodate contractors' seasonal work schedule.

The effort to fill the worker gap in the underground telecom and electric construction industry began with the Power and Communication Contractors Association (PCCA) Board of Directors and Continuum Capital identifying geographic areas where labor markets are particularly challenging and pinpointed the types of labor needed. Central Missouri and West Central Wisconsin were initially selected to gain initial support and pilot the "Who Will Do the Work?" program. The goal of the program addresses two challenges faced in the industry: a) to hire graduates with a known and consistent set of skills and b) to screen and train students who have an aptitude for outside plant construction.

On behalf of PCCA, Chase Lapcinski, senior vice president of Push, Inc., initiated the new training at WITC. The partnership between Push, Inc. and WITC seemed like a natural fit.

"PUSH, Inc. is pleased to partner with WITC to develop the utility construction technician program," said Lapcinski. "We at PUSH, Inc. are in need of skilled workers, and applicants who have received this training will be at an advantage and will be capable to advance faster than those with little experience or training."

Utility contractors and public municipalities of all sizes need a skilled workforce to install and maintain various utility systems including fiber optics, copper communications, electric, sewer/water, oil and natural gas pipelines. The program will introduce outside plant cabling practices, installed as aerial cable between poles in an underground conduit system or by direct burial. Students will understand basic electricity, blueprint reading, facility locating, basic construction practices for outside plant services, how to analyze work zone safety practices.

Upon successful completion, graduates will have earned 27 credits, a technical diploma, an OSHA 10 permit and a CDL Class A permit. Graduates will be prepared to work in construction positions with owners and contractors in the telecom market. WITC is currently working on developing a curriculum to add a second year to the utility construction technician program.

To learn more about the utility construction technician program, please contact Paul Kostner at 715-234-7082 ext. 5298 or email paul.kostner@witc.edu. Visit WITC online at witc.edu.

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