TelEm: USM training will boost availability of certified technicians and create new jobs

POND ISLAND – TelEm Group and the University of St. Martin (USM) are embarking on an ambitious training program to upgrade the fiber optic technical skills currently available on St. Maarten.

Starting in April, and covering two advanced training sessions, technicians from within the company as well as invited contractors, who wish to be certified as Fiber Optic Technicians, will be taking an intensive course, supervised and certificated by a leading USA fiber optic company.

During the course, participants will learn all about the workings of fiber optics technology, including how fiber optic cables are installed, spliced and measured. At the end of the training, participants will be primed and ready to play their part in a massive island-wide Fiber-to-the-Home rollout, which is scheduled to begin on St. Maarten this year.

TelEm Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Helma Etnel is very excited about the upcoming training and involvement of USM’s SCELL, having been assured that the training will be at the highest level possible to ensure all areas of fiber optics installation and design is covered in the shortest possible time.

“It has been acknowledged that we need to increase the  number of local technicians trained and certified in fiber optic installation to meet the scale of TelEm’s fiber rollout once it begins, so we have to be proactive by ensuring that we increase these numbers with our own local staff and our own local contractors,” said Etnel.

She is encouraging local telecommunication contractors and persons with technical skills to look for media announcements from USM stating when classes will begin. “Those who successfully pass the course and get certified will be in the best position to assist us in the Fiber-to-the-Home rollout once we begin because they will have the required knowledge,” continued Etnel.

She said the element of employing local certified fiber optic technicians as subcontractors is an important aspect of the Fiber-to-the-Home rollout, which is being partly financed with funds from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

“We will do our best to employ skilled local labour wherever possible on this major project for St. Maarten, and we are going a long way in complying with that wish with this training,” added Etnel.

TelEm Group Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Eldert Louisa said the US company that will be overseeing the training sessions are responsible for training thousands of technicians each year from the USA, and other countries where fiber optics are being installed.

“It is a very high-level training covering installation and other technical aspects, along with Outside Plant (OSP) design of fiber cable networks,” said Louisa.

He said no official date has been set for start of work on the Fiber-to-the-Home project, however, personnel have been quietly working behind the scenes on three pilot projects where they have been getting hands-on training on fiber optic installation, splicing and measuring.

“Once we begin the rollout in the different districts we will require as many trained technicians as we can get and if they are available locally, all the better for us and for the economy,” said Louisa.

The training program is being coordinated under the auspices of USM’s School of Continuing Education and Life Long Learning (SCELL), who are putting together the extensive program of support for participants along with the Light Brigade fiber optics company based in the USA.

“We are very proud to partner with TelEm Group on this ambitious training,” said SCELL Director Dr. Natasha Gittens, during a recent meeting on the upcoming training program with CFO Etnel.

She said SCELL has already worked with the company’s Human Resources and Development Department supporting their Professional Training and Development program, in addition to providing valuable coaching and mentoring to many of their employees over the last six months.

“This is just another wonderful opportunity to fully expand on our growing relationship while simultaneously providing valuable opportunities for the St. Maarten community at large. It is an honor for USM because it allows the community to realize our importance within the community and the valuable role we play in directly strengthening the overall economic sustainability of St. Maarten,” said Dr. Gittens.

Individuals or organizations interested in attending the fiber optics certificated training should visit the SCELL website:, or call: +1721-554-2437. Registration for both trainings is available online with easy payment options.

Photo Caption:
TelEm Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Helma Etnel (right) and Dr. Natasha J. Gittens, Ph.D, CH, Director of SCELL (left), share some ideas about the upcoming fiber optic training course that is being specially tailored for TelEm Group technical staff and local contractors.


Source: 721 news TelEm: USM training will boost availability of certified technicians and create new jobs