With one turbulent year almost over and another about to begin, the time is right for Canada's structured cabling industry to turn its attention to apprenticeship training issues. The need for action,...
December 1, 2002
With one turbulent year almost over and another about to begin, the time is right for Canada’s structured cabling industry to turn its attention to apprenticeship training issues. The need for action, according to Sherman Su, co-owner of GBS Communications Inc. an Ottawa company that specializes in integrated network cabling design and installation services, is obvious.
Veteran telecommunications consultant Dunn Harvey agrees. “Even the way you punch down the wires on a jack is now tremendously important,” he says in this issue’s cover story beginning on p. 8. “Installers must be trained specifically for the type of jack they are installing.”
Su, Roy Sherman, general manager of network solutions at State Electric, and Jeff Taylor, manager of outside plant operations with Toronto-based Integrated Cable Systems Inc., are part of a team that has been successful in getting the Ontario government to issue a formal trade designation for network cabling specialists.
As Sherman points out in our Focus on Installation feature (see p. 14), there have been installers in this industry for years that have had no designation at all. With three community colleges — Algonquin, Humber and Durham — now offering network cabling specialist courses, the ultimate goal is to build on that momentum and take the program national.
A soon-to-be-released certification for qualification (CFQ) exam, which would have to be written by every installer in Ontario wanting to become certified, could play an important role in the long-term plan. The CFQ is similar to what Nova Scotia implemented in October 1999, but with more teeth. Technically, in order to earn the designation in that province, a network cabling specialist needs to pay a fee, write an exam and earn at least a 70 per cent mark.
The problem is that many installers have earned the designation without having to write an exam, the result of a “grandfather” clause in the legislation.
“We won’t grandfather,” Taylor insists. “That’s been our mandate since Day One, because we didn’t want to see the value of the certificate depleted to nothing.”
That’s especially true if the program expands. “We’re at a point now where we know we’ve got the basic machine in place, but we have to add a couple of more bells and whistles and market that machine,” says Su. “It’s extremely important.”
It would also benefit graduates who complete network cabling specialist courses to know that their piece of paper is going to be worth as much in one province as it is in another.
A logical step in all of this would be for BICSI to get involved, but to date that has yet to happen.
Still, the Ontario group has vowed to press on. “We’re in the mindset now,” says Su, “where BICSI’s lack of involvement is not going to hinder how we’re going to grow this program in Canada.”
It would be a good idea if the two groups started talking.