TAMPA, Fla. — Learning Alliance Corp., in partnership with T-Mobile, shared highlights from the first year of the NextTech Diversity Program. Launched in 2021, the NextTech Diversity Program provides career training and placement for hundreds of diverse candidates to take on meaningful employment within the telecommunications industry.

The goal of the NextTech Diversity Program is to increase diversity, equality, and inclusion across the telecom industry by investing in the recruitment, training, certification, and job placement of minorities and women. Today, people of color comprise a disproportionately small percentage of all network technicians and field crews. Meanwhile, the 5G revolution is expected to create an estimated 20,000 new jobs to help build the network infrastructure. The NextTech Diversity Program creates a productive bridge between both of these realities: an industry that requires thousands of new workers and a workforce that must be made more diverse.

“The program is like a month-long boot camp, where students will be at our facilities 12 hours per day, six days a week for an entire month,” said Cesar Ruiz, CEO of LAC. “The students won’t just graduate as tower technicians; they will be certified 5G technicians, supporting the industry. It gives graduates the opportunity to choose the path that aligns best with their personal mission.” 

NextTech launched one year ago with nearly $1 million in funding, including an initial $750,000 in seed funding from T-Mobile and an additional $225,000 from another telecommunications partner. This support allowed LAC to oversee the recruitment, training, certification, and job placement of 50 LAC graduates to 32 different network-building companies in 2021. LAC’s projected 2022 funding will help the organization recruit, train, certify, and place twice as many graduates in its second year.

"NextTech gave me the opportunity to be a part of the telecommunication industry and to get the training and skills I needed to be efficient,” said Darius Walker, a former NextTech graduate. “On top of that, I'm looking forward to earning more money and having a better quality of life.”

In recognition of Black History Month and the first anniversary of the program, T-Mobile unveiled expanded professional development programs and curriculum.

“The success we’ve seen in the first year of the NextTech Diversity Program is a testament to T-Mobile's commitment to empower the communities we serve,” said Joyce Christanio, senior program manager for supplier diversity at T-Mobile. “As we continue our work to establish more diverse talent pipelines, we’re asking our industry peers and allies to join us by either funding training for candidates or hiring NextTech Program graduates.”

The NextTech Diversity Program includes partners that represent a wide range of telecom companies, and their collaboration demonstrates a growing industrywide commitment to bring diverse talent to this space. In addition to the program’s founding partners, Vikor, Goodman Telecom, Tower Systems, New-Tech Construction, and Petzl joined the initiative in 2022.