How Cable Operators Are Investing in the Career Trajectories of Their Employees

Article courtesy of NCTA

Every day, millions of Americans reach for their tablet, laptop or TV, and every day, millions of cable industry employees help them make the most of their internet service. Whether they are installing a wireless service in a farmhouse or troubleshooting a TV Everywhere app, the broadband technicians and customer service representatives at cable operators nationwide have to be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to handle any type of situation or new technology that comes their way. To prepare their employees to be adept, America's broadband providers offer various kinds of training and education to their frontline that helps them not only succeed in their current roles, but to also grow professionally within the industry. One company that cable operators turn to in order to foster this type of succession planning is NCTI, a provider of cable and broadband technology training services based in Colorado.

NCTI partners with organizations throughout the cable and broadband industry to build the education and skills of frontline employees such as technicians and customer care agents. Since its inception over 50 years ago, half a million frontline employees throughout the industry have gone through NCTI's program and many have climbed the ladder to lead teams in supervisor and director roles. What makes these professional development and training programs unique is that they also include college education classes that align with career progression. "We help them think about where they want to be in five years," said Camilla Formica, NCTI chief revenue officer. Employees earn certifications and degrees while receiving job training, giving them more opportunities for future promotions and advancements. 

The course work varies depending on the career track that an employee selects, but a lot of the learning takes place online to make the classes flexible and scalable for everyone. Classes include a large range of professional training—from technical writing, upper level broadband technician course work, business strategy, leadership, communication, data customer service, to specialized classes in installation and fiber testing, to name a few. 

Cable operators look to partner with NCTI to meet various retention goals. "They might seek us out for one-off projects, like when companies are preparing a fiber buildout and they need to build specific skills among their employees," explained Stacey Slaughter, NCTI President & CEO. But the main focus of companies that want to incorporate NCTI's curriculum into their training structure is to create a pipeline where their employees can grow within the organization and ultimately make a greater impact on the company's bottom line. "They want to build that career progression for their employees, to keep them engaged and moving forward," said Formica. 

And it seems to be working. In a recent NCTI survey, eight in 10 technicians reported that training opportunities and a clearly defined career path impacted their decision to stay with a company. Through their evaluations of the program, Formica added that program participants tend to start a trajectory, move up the ranks and stay in the industry and in their organizations much longer than individuals who did not pursue any education tied to their careers and who opted to take other jobs that might pay a couple of dollars more per hour in the short term. 

But for those who receive the education and training for the long term, it pays dividends. Formica and Slaughter shared success stories from people who started with their companies right out of high school and in an entry-level position and who worked their way up through the program to senior and even executive levels. "It's great to see it happen with women especially," said Formica. "It's been a game changer in a male-dominated industry." 

With consumer demand for faster internet increasing every year and for connected devices that can handle technologies like VR, AR, 4K TV and more, the industry needs highly-skilled technicians and customer service representatives to help deliver high-speed internet and services to homes all over the country. Professional development and industry specific education programs like this one, and the huge commitment on behalf of cable operators to retain and empower their employees, continue to make a difference every year as the industry evolves and brings rich and innovative experiences to millions of Americans.