County commissioners approve funding for Broadband Futures program

As the information technology sector continues to grow in central Ohio, Franklin County has launched a new workforce initiative to meet rising demand. The Franklin County Commissioners recently approved over $549,000 to support the new Broadband Futures program, which will provide training and employment opportunities in the fiber technician field.

This innovative new partnership between Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services (JFS) and the National Center for Urban Solutions (NCUS) TEC will focus on recruiting unemployed and underemployed residents to start on this new career path.

Participants of the program will undergo rigorous training to prepare them for good paying fiber technician careers.

“This collaboration will help us place talented and often overlooked residents of Franklin County on promising bright career tracks,” JFS Director Michelle Lindeboom said. “Broadband Futures will help close opportunity gaps while creating the fiber-optic networks to better connect communities and grow the local tech sector.

Whether increasing access to broadband or supporting massive data centers for the likes of Amazon and Facebook, fiber-optic cables are vital technology infrastructure. As the demand for fiber technicians continues to rise, Broadband Futures will connect residents, particularly those from marginalized communities across the county, to these middle-class careers.

“This program is not just about addressing unemployment numbers and statistics, it’s about providing skills training and connecting residents with a new career that they can be passionate and excited about,” JFS Chief Administrator Vivian Turner said. “We’ll also be providing ongoing support and mentoring through the first year of their career journey.”

Participants will receive six weeks of skilled training, where they will prepare to complete the Fiber Optics basic installer certification, along with coaching, mentoring, and other supportive services to remove barriers and ensure successful completion.

Broadband Futures graduates will be referred to employment opportunities with NCUS TEC’s network employer partners where they have the opportunity to earn starting wages ranging from $22 to $30 an hour.

“Our mission has always been to bridge the gap between the demand for skilled fiber technicians and the untapped potential within our communities,” said Perry Gregory, senior vice president for NCUS. “With the generous support from Franklin County, we’re not only providing accelerated job training and industry credentials but also empowering individuals to secure meaningful employment opportunities.”

Under the new partnership, NCUS will look to enroll a minimum of 50 Franklin County residents into the Broadband Futures over the next 12 months. Residents must be 18 or older and meet Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) eligibility requirements.

For more information or to register, visit ncustec.org.

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