Training Top 100 Best Practice: Construction Onboarding and Safety Training at SAC Wireless

SAC Wireless revamped its Construction Onboarding and Safety Training program, reducing it from a five-week program to a three-week blended/flipped classroom approach of e-learning, in-classroom climbing and rigging simulation in a newly developed training center, and on-the-job (OJT) mentoring.

Construction onboarding and training for new hires is, by far, the most business-critical and expensive training program for SAC Wireless, which works with telecom carriers, major tower owners, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) across the United States offering turnkey solutions, including cellular network builds, upgrades, 5G, 4G, LTE, small cell, and FirstNet. All tower technicians are trained in construction across the Field Services business unit, approximately 600 crew members annually.

Program Details

SAC Wireless revamped its Construction Onboarding and Safety Training program, reducing it from a five-week program to a three-week blended/flipped classroom approach of e-learning, in-classroom climbing and rigging simulation in a newly developed training center, and on-the-job mentoring.

SAC Wireless aims to help customers keep the world connected with its ideas, innovations, and solutions. In support of this, the company built a 15,000-square-foot training center outside Chicago that is utilized to train crew properly on climbing towers and installing cellular components, antennas, and pulling lines in a safe environment. The center provides hands-on training with state-of-the-art equipment to prepare all tower technicians for on-site work. In the training center, hands-on learning stations immerse participants in one subject at a time, including Equipment Installation, Ropes, Rigging, Antennas and Cabling, Capstain Hoist, Emergency Rescue, First-Aid, and CPR. The new center design includes two 35-foot indoor training towers and a 50-foot outdoor training tower to simulate the most realistic on-the-job experience for learners.

SAC Wireless holds monthly safety training virtually on a new and relevant topic each month, as well as annual safety refreshers. Technicians are required to demonstrate on-the-job application and competence through annual climber and rescuer refreshers. Technicians also are monetarily incentivized to complete one hour of safety training per month through a quarterly Field Incentive Program. Both programs are conducted in close partnership with the safety team, and content is based on the most relevant topics in support of improving safety metrics. Depending on the safety issues that are arising across the organization, an ongoing needs assessment identifies priority safety training needs, and the Training team quickly pivots to support the business.

The Chief Field Services Officer (CFSO) is the sponsor of the program. He provides guidance on business strategies and goals and upcoming demand, as well as feedback on program effectiveness. Both he and the CEO often kick off new classes, develop videos to promote and market the program internally and externally, and speak about the program with customers and at external industry events.

Results

Course quality scores are 4.4 out of 5.0, and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of those recommending the program to their peers is 90 percent. As a result of the revamped program, new technicians are able to be in their market and get to work two weeks sooner. Turnover for new technicians decreased from 67 percent to 48 percent. SAC Wireless also experienced an improvement of two basis points in safety-related incidents in the field. And the program realized a 57 percent per-student cost savings.

 

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Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine, owned by Lakewood Media Group. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training Top 100 and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 29 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.