Arnold Thacker

Arnold Thacker may be unemployed, but he feels empowered to embark on a new and exciting career thanks to the Fiber Optics training program at Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC).

Thacker joined hundreds of jobseekers on Wednesday, April 20 at a Job Fair on the BSCTC Prestonsburg campus. The event was sponsored by BSCTC, the Kentucky Coal Academy, Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc., Kentucky Career Center JobSight and the Big Sandy Area Community Action Program. More than 440 people participated in the event.

I feel like opportunity is right around the corner, said Thacker, 61, of Pikeville. Like thousands of eastern Kentucky residents, Thacker was laid off after spending more than three decades in the coal industry in 2013. Opportunities are here. Some are not always a right fit, but this is one of the best job fairs I have attended.

Last year, BSCTC started the states first Fiber Optic Association-sanctioned training programs with BDI DataLynk. Since its inception, the training program has attracted participants from 13 states.

Thacker completed his training in February, earning credentials as a Fiber Optics Technician, Fiber Optics Specialist in Testing and Maintenance, Fiber Optics Splicing Specialists and Outside Plant and Cabling. BSCTC is the only school in Kentucky to offer the Outside Plant and Cabling certification.

Thacker met with company representatives from Team Fishel during the job fair. They are seeking fiber optic technicians.

Its promising, said Thacker. We know that the [KentuckyWired] project is going to bring fiber to our region, and with that comes the opportunity for me to work and find a new career.

Thacker said the best part of the colleges Fiber Optic training program is the support after the courses.

Kelli [Hall] and her team are always in contact with us about job opportunities and events where we can apply for positions, he said. Thats been a big help, and I know as the fiber project is launched, the jobs will be there.

Kelli Hall, interim dean of career education and workforce development, said the job fair proves the point that companies are hiring and eastern Kentucky has a motivated and skilled workforce.

Representatives from Team Fishel joined Kelly Services, who were on hand to take applications for Toyota Manufacturing.

Through collaboration and innovation, we can bring opportunities to the people of our region that seek it, said Hall.

For Thacker, opportunity knocked.

He answered and he and many others will wait for the call.