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This is from my post “PCIA Setting the Wireless Training Standards”. Now when you read these, they are two opposite views, whereas one is pro PCIA and the other is trying to detect whether the climber’s best intentions are really the reason for this. Remember that PCIA is funded by large companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. They have lobbyists that represent the carriers in government. This isn’t necessarily a bad ting because wireless builds come to a crawl when government regulation steps in so they work hard to make sure that deployment can happen in a timely manner. PCIA has done a lot of good for the industry. They were at TIRAP showing support, like AT&T was represented there. So read both responses then make up your own mind.

Comment: As the Director of Education and Training for PCIA and a climber, I very pleased to be leading the effort to bring a standardized industry training program to our industry. Today we are forming the National Credentials Committee (NCC), a committee, although lead by PCIA is an industry committee.  The NCC will be charged with the how to portion of training with the creation of textbooks, study manuals and industry competency testing, all of which ties back to the larger program.  NCC will also provide guidance on continued education modules and next steps of curriculum / outline development.  Also, in creation and expected to be operational within the 6 months is the industry National Database.  The database is a registry and centralized location that tower climbers, DAS / Small Cell, etc., employers and other can utilize to develop safety practices and create career pathways.  The database will also be the location for the industry testing module that will provide proficiency and understanding of knowledge based retention in all facets of our industry.  Testing created and approved by industry is a keystone to ensuring our workforce is competent and safe and meets industry standards. PCIA is starting with Tower Climbers, but the program is for every discipline of our industry. This is an industry program, “by the industry and for the industry”. I welcome anyone who would like to know more about this program or who want to serve on the NCC, to contact me directly. (Phil Larsen)

 Response: This is great that PCIA is stepping up to tracking all credentials in the industry, wow, what an undertaking. To be fair though, it may be hard to get to many field people to participate because many of them travel extensively for work, as you probably know. They often spend more time on the road than home. However, I am curious, why start with the climbers? Is this where the grant money is going? Who is funding the database support down the road? Will this system stay in place for the next 10 years? What are your plans to capture the existing climbers training data? What about companies that do more than carrier work, is this a standard for them as well? So many questions. I originally tried to talk to Phil who did reach out to me, but then we got busy so I just sent an email to him about this so when I hear back I will update all of you! I sent the questions to him at the same time I worked on this post, so to be fair, we should have answers soon.  FYI – PCIA does support TIRAP!

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Comment: Wade, pardon me if my BS detector goes off here! It’s political overload mode is on.

Doesn’t it look really good for the big guys if they are really doing something? And the government (not them) ponies up a few million for a few favorite institutions (including PCIA). And politico Adelstein is in charge of the show. But, note that there is no mention in any of this of the small businesses that really make the system run. And no comments ever about keeping that base financially safe so that it can actually pay for training (your comments noted).

I have walked in barnyards before. The odor is curiously similar…

Response: WOW!, Tell me how you really feel! OK, I know that this may not be the way the climbers want to see standards set, but we have to start somewhere and we all have to align. Right now we see to have several different standards out there but nothing official. If something can get set and we have an industry standard I think it will be a good thing, especially if they are documented in a database somewhere we can all access them. I believe we need to progress, the result will be a better system, someday.

Comment: Unfortunately, I agree.  I think your more likely to see an improvement in Safety & Quality if U just took that money and distributed it to the last 2 contractors/sub-contractors in the food chain.  Not the end workers (sorry to say but…) but their employers and their employers’ clients.

Get some profits to the people who are actually adding value to the projects not to mention taking significant financial risks.  I hate saying it’s all about money and I hate picking on the Fat Cats (when they’re looking), because it’s not ALL about money and the Fat Cats played their role (most of them) in making the industry what it is too.

But we all know that many of the bigger Turf Vendors absorb sometimes the majority of the profits while adding debatable amounts of value to the product.   I’m sorry but it’s true.  And U want to at least give them credit for improved logistics or organization or something, but that’s not always true either.

Us “bottom of the chain” people,  Our employers (mostly) all want us to be safe.   We want to be safe.  But just as humans didn’t learn to read and otherwise become civilized until we weren’t worrying about what we were going to eat or what we would be eaten by – 24hrs/day.

Which is exactly (the slightly exaggerated) position most of our employers are in…..Eat or get eaten.  You’ll never change the safety culture when the end businesses are in survival mode.  They can’t help their employees if they don’t have any.  Survive first, learn to read 2nd.
 Johnny wants to learn how to read.

Response: You make a great points, (I hope I summarize this properly) nobody wants to see someone get hurt and businesses in survival mode are more worried about surviving. As long as the businesses are trying to make a profit they can’t be overly concerned with training standards but they really don’t want to see someone hurt because that’s bad for business in all aspects. Unfortunately there are so many people in the industry trying to make a name by pushing workers that they don’t think through the liability issues, if something happens they just move on to the next company and start pushing. If companies don’t survive, the thought is the workers will work somewhere else until that company sinks. I can tell you now, this will drive people out of the industry, at least those of us who aren’t building a career. It is hard for those of us who have been in this industry for 20+ years to throw it all away you become a greeter at Wal-Mart or Target. We really want to move ahead and grow in this exciting industry, but it’s all of the companies that put schedules ahead of human decency that make the entire industry look really bad, so remember to set realistic expectations.

So remember to be smart, be safe, and pay attention to what you’re doing! Make a plan, follow the plan but don’t be afraid to adapt, improvise, and overcome your obstacles!     

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Go to the IWCE conference and see me! I will be on the “Tower Safety and Regulatory Compliance” panel on March 17th, 2015. Don’t you need an excuse to go to the Las Vegas convention center. I will share the stage with Cory Crenshaw, Charles Ryan, Dr. Denis Boulais, and Robert Johnson. Our moderator will be J. Sharpe Smith of AGL Magazine. Here is a list of exhibitors that will be there. I will be speaking and I may need some safety gear, email me at wade4wireless@gmail.com so we can talk! Make sure you sign up for this forum running 1:00PM to 4:30PM because let’s face it, these are issues you deal with on every job!If you want to talk after the conference, let me know.

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