Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) and its Workforce Solutions division completed its first Certified Fiber Optics training on Sunday, August 23 on its Pikeville campus.

The classes were taught by Austin, Texas-based BDI DataLynk, an internationally recognized training company. All certifications are also endorsed by the Fiber-Optics Association (FOA).

Thirteen participants earned certificates as a Certified Fiber Optics Technician, Certified Fiber Optics Specialist in Testing and Maintenance and Certified Fiber Optics Specialist in Splicing.

Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of BSCTC, applauded the work of the colleges Workforce Solutions division for their quick work in making the certifications possible.

With the start of the Kentucky Information Highway imminent, it is important that we have a skilled workforce ready to meet the needs of the installation and maintenance of this expansive system, he said. BSCTC, as well as all colleges in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, are proud partners of SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region). Our Workforce Solutions division put this program in place quick with an emphasis on quality.

Kelli Hall, director of Workforce Solutions and the Kentucky Coal Academy at BSCTC, said the program presents opportunities for employment in family wage jobs.

Charles Scarberry, 39, of East Point in Johnson County, completed his licensure for a commercial drivers license (CDL) but did not want to be away from home for long periods of time.

Its [fiber optics] something I have always been interested in, said Scarberry, who has worked in mining and construction. I feel this is a skill that is marketable in this economy and it will allow me to find a job and take care of my family.

Brian Runyon, 37, of Paintsville, is a laid off coal miner. He wants to transfer his strong work ethic he learned in the mines to the field of fiber optics.

I want to get into a field where I feel there is a future, said Runyon. The training is great, its detailed and it gives you something that employers are looking for.

The certification courses are part of an expansive stackable credential program that can lead to an associate degree at BSCTC. The college and UPIKE are discussing ways to provide a seamless transfer to a baccalaureate degree in telecommunications. The East Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. is also a partner in this program.

BSCTCs Workforce Solutions division will be hosting Certified Fiber Optics training classes monthly. The next class is set to start on September 28. For more information, contact Sally Porter at (606) 218-1276 or email