By Kelly Hill
The National Association of Tower Erectors is now offering free training to help telecommunications workers become more alert to the telltale signs that someone is being trafficked or exploited, and how to report the information to authorities who can help.
NATE will offer the Recognize and Alert (RAN) training and certification as part of the Telecommunications Against Trafficking and Exploitation (TATE) initiative of anti-trafficking group 3Strands Global Foundation. Bringing the concept to NATE is a result of work by Kenny Blakeslee, president and CEO of Apex Site Solutions, and Ashlie Bryant, co-founder and CEO of 3Strands Global, and as well as Jim Tracy, CEO of Legacy Telecommunications.
Blakeslee said that after meeting Bryant and learning that she had trained local utility workers in anti-trafficking awaress, he realized that telecommunications workers could play a similar role and turned to Tracy to help bring the idea to NATE leadership.
Telecommunications workers are highly mobile: They travel around the country frequently, stopping at truck stops and hotels. They work inside and outside buildings, in and around transportation hubs, and in cities, towns and rural areas. They have, quite literally, a unique perspective as they work on towers, rooftop sites and in bucket trucks on streets around the country. The RAN training seeks to educate telecom workers about warning signs of sexual or worker exploitation and provides information about reporting.
Blakeslee emphasized that the training warns people not to put themselves at personal risk, but gives them accurate information about how to identify signs that someone else is being trafficked or exploited, and how to report to the proper authorities — including what information is most useful, such as license plate numbers, descriptions and exact locations.
“It’s a pretty simple ask, but it could be a powerful thing,” Blakeslee said.
The 30-minute video training is provided free of charge and can be accessed here.
Bryant says that it’s crucial to provide people with truthful information about what human trafficking and worker exploitation actually is — and what it looks like in the real world — rather than their perceptions of what it might be. In the past year, conspiracy theorist have used human trafficking as a real issue that they have leveraged to draw people in to other conspiratorial claims.
Bryant’s organization was founded in 2011 and has backed a number of state-level policy initiatives, as well as supporting anti-human trafficking education and training. One of the most important aspects of the group’s work is to help connect trafficking and exploitation survivors with employment, Bryant said.
NATE President & CEO Todd Schlekeway encouraged company members of the organization to participate in becoming RAN-certified. “Collectively, our dynamic industry can be a force for change to combat human trafficking and exploitation,” said Schlekeway.