Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY) introduced the Broadband Industry Development Act to address the shortage of broadband workers in rural communities in Upstate New York. Rep. Don Davis (D-NC) is a co-sponsor.
In Upstate New York, efforts are now underway to bring broadband services to rural and underserved communities to address the gap in reliable internet access. While the demand for these internet services are dramatically increasing, the broadband industry is experiencing a significant worker shortage, resulting in project delays, according to the lawmaker.
The bill addresses the workforce shortage by creating a grant program within the U.S. Department of Labor to train and prepare workers specifically for the broadband field. The program will be available to local labor organizations, non-profits, private businesses, industry associations, and institutions of higher education, including community colleges.
“Federal resources are available to expand broadband, but not its workforce, leading to unnecessary delays,” says Molinaro. “Rural communities are being left behind because there’s not enough manpower to install broadband services. We can’t let that happen. My grant program will bridge this gap to get more trained workers in the field, rolling out broadband services.”
“Empowering [a state] with broadband expansion demands a skilled workforce,” says Davis. “The Broadband Industry Development Act calls for investments in apprenticeship programs and fosters job growth. It supports our community colleges in building vital workforce development programs central to delivering the American dream for families across America.”
“Investing in apprenticeships is the best way to improve training and build the broadband workforce,” says WIA. “As the National Sponsor of the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program, which includes over 100 employers across the country, WIA is proud to support this legislation because it takes important steps to create a telecom workforce pipeline and close the digital divide.”
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief