Spokane Journal of Business

Former Avista executive starts training venture

Post Falls company aims to prepare telecom workers

  • Print Article

A former Avista Communications executive has launched a Post Falls company that provides training in telecommunications technologies.

The company, Northlight Institute of Technology Inc., was founded by Terry Jett, who previously was vice president of network operations for the Avista Corp. subsidiary, which is in the process of being dissolved after having sold off most of its assets. Northlight opened a month ago at the University of Idaho Research Park, at 510 Clearwater Loop. It employs three people, including Jett.

Jett says he launched the company after buying a couple million dollars worth of Avista Communications equipment. That equipment now is set up in a teaching laboratory, where he and one other full-time instructor, plus contract instructors, will conduct classes, he says.

Hands-on training is our emphasis, Jett says. Youre not in front of a computer, were actually working on equipment such as channel banks, multiplexers, and phone systems.

Northlights class offerings range from fundamentals, such as basic electricity, to advanced programs, such as a series of courses that lead to certification in convergent network technologies (CCNT), a program thats offered in conjunction with the Arlington, Va.-based Telecommunications Industry Association.

This is really important right now, Jett says. Theres a lot of emphasis on combining both voice and data together, or whats referred to as convergent technologies.

The courses cost anywhere from $50 to $3,500, and are aimed at people who are interested in the telecommunications field or those who have been working in the telecom industry and want to refresh or expand their skills, he says.

Individual courses last from a day to several days, and programs of courses that lead to specialized certification can take anywhere from nine to 15 months to complete, says Andrew Grimes, Northlights director of training.

The institute seeks to prepare workers for careers as telecommunications technicians, telecom engineers, information-technology specialists, and wireless technicians, Jett says. To help those people get jobs, the school eventually wants to develop an apprenticeship program and a placement program, Grimes says.

For now, Jett and Grimes hope to invite employers to the institute to see what were about and what were training the students to do, Grimes says.

Northlight also is seeking accreditation from several sources, and is working with industry associations to offer certification programs beyond the CCNT.

Jett acknowledges that the telecommunications industry has taken a beating in the past year or so.

Right now, its probably at an all-time low, he says.

He believes, however, that once this lull in the storm is no longer there, theres going to be quite a demand to rehire people with very acute skills. Thats our intentto get those people prepared.

  • Addy Hatch

  • Follow RSS feed for Addy Hatch

Read More

Sign up for our E-mail updates

including the
Morning Edition

Join our list