ACADIANA, La. (KLFY)– The multi-billion dollar investment from the U.S. government to provide reliable connectivity across the U.S.– is sparking concerns.

Some fiber optic experts say the demand for high-speed internet is higher than the number of trained technicians available to complete the job. News 10 looks at how one local broadband provider is helping to strengthen the future workforce of Lafayette.

LUS Fiber has joined forces with South Louisiana Community College.

Successfully navigating business, education and nearly all aspects of life in the 21st century digital world requires high speed internet. Unfortunately, millions of Americans, particularly those in rural and low-income areas, don’t have access to reliable connectivity.

“What is going to be unique is the size and scale of this challenge that is impacting one out of every three Louisianians in the state,” Veneeth Lyengar, executive director for the state of Louisiana’s broadband efforts, said. “We need to work at the same urgency that these people need this stuff.”

LUS Fiber in Lafayette donated $40,000 to SLCC’s new Fiber Optic Technician Program. 

“They told us that if there was anything that they could do, any equipment that they can donate or loan that they would be more than glad to help us out,” Steven Matthews, vice president of Workforce and Economic Development at SLCC, said.

Matthews said the 20-week course covers various facets of the field from construction to in-home fiber installation. 

“What we are trying to do is give them the stackable credentials they need to get in the industry and secure the jobs that will give them a living wage and support their families,” Matthews said. 

Matthews said the 20-week program was created with the future in mind. Once the fiber project is complete, the Fiber Optics Program will transition from an installation program to a maintenance and repair program.

“They will continue those jobs and probably be promoted to maintenance and repair technicians,” Matthews said. “They will diagnose issues throughout our communities and neighborhoods with cable.”

Cox cable has also donated additional funding. That donation allows for $2,500 dollar scholarships for a select amount of students. To apply for the scholarship and additional funding call the workforce division at SLCC. 

The Fiber Optic Technician Program kicks off Oct. 23 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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