Labor Department Awards WIA Funding to Develop 5G Workforce

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The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) announced yesterday that the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) awarded it a major contract to perform as the 5G Industry Intermediary to develop the wireless workforce. DoL provided WIA a multi-million-dollar contract as the National Sponsor of the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP). The objective of the funding is to expand the industry’s multi-employer apprenticeship model to meet employers’ occupational and skills development needs. The contract will enable WIA to assist employers in developing over 600 apprentices in the next year with multi-year options to renew thereafter. It also provides $400,000 per year in incentive funds for employers that adopt registered apprenticeship and serve under-represented populations. WIA was named the National Sponsor of TIRAP by the Department of Labor in 2017.

“WIA is grateful for DoL’s focus on 5G as a driver of job growth for the entire economy. With the resources provided by DoL, WIA can offer more support to employers as they train their workers to meet the demands of winning the race to 5G,” said WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein. “In-the-field experience and mentorship are imperative for wireless jobs, so apprenticeships are ideal for offering future employees viable career paths. As 5G deployments continue taking off, apprenticeships help employers recruit, train, and retain employees that can deliver higher quality work more safely.” 

The Department of Labor cites evidence that 94 percent of apprentices retain employment after an apprenticeship program ends and lists benefits such as reducing turnover, improving productivity, and recruiting a skilled and diverse workforce.

The Industry Intermediary contract provides funding to launch, promote, and expand models that scale to support high-growth industries like 5G telecommunications, increase the number opportunities for underrepresented populations, and leverage resources to support long-term sustainability of programs well after project completion. The contract requires that 50 percent of the apprentices represent underserved populations.

“As wireless grows, WIA will continue to build a more diverse and inclusive wireless workforce our members seek because it is paramount to future success in our meaningful and career-oriented industry,” said Adelstein. “Over the past three years, WIA and TIRAP employers have attracted and supported diverse employees and we remain committed to cultivating diversity and providing pathways for success.”

The contract includes collaboration with apprenticeship systems such as the Office of Apprenticeship and State Apprenticeship Agencies, Public Workforce Systems, Institutes of Higher Education, and other expert groups. It was funded under the DoL Expansion of Registered Apprenticeship Program through Industry Intermediaries initiative.

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