Network Cabling Specialist Career a Life-changing Opportunity for IBEW Apprentice

Vikas Madan, IBEW Local 353 Apprentice and winner of the Network Cabling Specialist Student Award

By Sherri Haigh

As the first ever two-time top student award winner for the Network Cabling Specialist (NCS) trade school, Vikas Madan is excited by a career that offers him a chance to be creative, work with his hands and secure a future.

“It’s always nice to be recognized for your accomplishments,” says Madan, who posted a motivational note on his wall but did not expect to win twice – for both basic and then advanced trade school.

He credits joining the IBEW Local 353 as a life-changing decision that has allowed him to finally find a career that is both fulfilling and provides good pay, benefits and a pension. The Network Cabling Specialist is one of the fastest-growing trades in construction, and for a hard-working, ambitious person who likes a challenge, it’s the dream opportunity.

“It’s so fast and always changing to keep up with new technology. I get bored easily but with this job every day is different, you can specialize in so many different things, you can go into Wi-Fi, cellular, fibre optics etc. The biggest attraction is that you are always learning,” says Madan.

Despite the great financial benefits, it is the continual learning and focus on safety that makes the IBEW stand out for Madan.

“I am glad I started with the union. I have friends from my course working non-union, and the difference in standards and safety is like night and day. Due to the quantity of safety training, I feel a lot safer working for the union”.

He admits few people even know what an NCS does, despite the fact it impacts so many people. Work of an NCS can be described as “installing the telecommunications highway,” and that can include everything from ensuring cell phone service, cable TV, Wi-Fi, control the temperature in your home and Power over Ethernet (PoE) devices, including lighting where there no longer is a conventional source of power for lights.

“A lot of people think it’s simple, general labour, but if you don’t understand what you are putting in and what it means, you will make a lot of mistakes. It’s more finesse than just lifting; there is a lot of technical work,” he said.

Madan said his original career plan started with going to university to take Finance but quickly realized that was not for him.

“After high school, I don’t think I had any idea what I wanted to do, so while at home, I started doing projects, little things, renovating here and there and loved it. I ended up looking up a course at Humber, and my professors got me the first job with the union, and that was it,” he said.

He admits that once he joined the IBEW, he was set on becoming an electrician, but a union rep told him about this exciting new opportunity that involved working with low voltage and was a trade in high demand.

“I thought, why not? It gets me in the door but now I don’t plan on doing electrical—the NCS field is where I want to be.”

As an apprentice, he is paid to learn on the job, and while he started on small jobs, he was excited to get to work on a hospital.

“You never really see how a hospital works behind the scenes, but with my job, I was able to see from start to finish—what an experience,” he said.

Another exciting project he worked on was the Crosslinx subway project in downtown Toronto, and once again, the pride in his voice is notable.

“It’s completely different, as it was a city-wide project. It was so amazing,” he added.

While some individuals may be working on non-union construction sites as communication technicians, Madan highly recommends people join the IBEW to become certified Network Cable Specialists to not only get the financial rewards they deserve but also to get the skills needed to meet the growing demand for work in this field.

“There is a shortage of NCS right now. I highly recommend it as a great career,” he said.

Anyone currently working as a communications technician in the construction sector who would like to turn their job into a career as a Network Cabling Specialist should visit www.ibewcomms.ca.

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