UPDATE House lawmakers this week introduced the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act. The measure is meant to help close the workforce shortage in the telecommunications industry. Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) said the bipartisan legislation reflects the need for developing a workforce equipped to deploy 5G technology and broadband infrastructure to underserved communities.
The Act is companion legislation to the bill reintroduced in the Senate last week, Inside Towers reported. Its introduction in both houses of Congress comes on the heels of a coalition representing 11 industry organizations that sent a joint letter to the White House and Congress urging support for broadband-related job skills development as part of any infrastructure legislation.
The bill encourages apprenticeships to grow a workforce adept at building 5G wireless networks. It outlines provisions associated with communications workforce guidance between the federal government and states and establishes an interagency working group. The bill also requires a Government Accountability Office assessment of the estimated workforce needed to deploy rural broadband infrastructure.
Todd Schlekeway, president and chief executive officer of NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association, said, “NATE believes the provisions outlined in the bipartisan Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act can serve as a springboard to fostering greater collaboration between the federal government, state workforce boards, higher education and private sector companies.” Working together, NATE believes, they can accomplish “the ultimate goal of developing a future pipeline of skilled technicians that the country sorely needs to meet its ambitious broadband and 5G deployment objectives,” Schlekeway added.