“Ensuring that we have the skilled workforce in place to deploy, maintain, and upgrade our nation’s communications infrastructure is one of the keys to ensuring that all Americans have access to advanced broadband networks,” FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said Tuesday. He highlighted the shortage of skilled workers to attendees gathered in Washington, D.C. The Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP), and national sponsor Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA), joined officials from the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) to celebrate adding 1,500 registered apprenticeships to the wireless industry.
The shift to 5G will require an enormous investment in both wired and wireless infrastructure, said Carr. “But getting there—and ensuring that the United States leads the world in 5G—is going to require substantial and sustained infrastructure deployment. In fact, 5G is going to involve a 10- to 100-fold increase in small cells as well as millions of miles of new fiber and other network infrastructure.”
Wanting to shine a light on the worker shortage and solutions, Carr said he’s recently heard from DoL representatives, tech company executives, community college administrators, and from apprentices themselves, about the benefits of apprenticeships. Officials from the DoL and the U.S. Occupational, Safety and Health Administration joined representatives from private employers to explore the role apprenticeships and training and education will play in developing the skilled workforce the U.S. needs as it prepares for 5G deployment.
Employers honored at the event include: Centerline Solutions; Mercury Communications & Construction; MUTI; Novation Enterprises; Vertical Limit; Hightower Communications; Lee Antenna & Line Services; Tri-State Tower; Enertech; TowerMRL; Verticom; Deep South Communications; Rio Steel & Tower; Finish Tower; ERI and Tilson. TIRAP Board Chair Scott Kisting, who’s also the EVP of Proactive Telecommunications Solutions, said: “The private sector understands how important registered apprenticeships are to building a stronger workforce. By ensuring the needs of industry are met and working with the government, the industry is able to create more jobs for Americans.”
WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein characterized the “pioneering” small and mid-sized companies as the heart of the wireless infrastructure industry: “These companies are building and maintaining the towers and installing the fiber networks and small cells in communities across the nation. These companies and others like them need more workers to build new communications networks as we expand to carry 5G. And once they’re built, they need to maintain them.”
As the national sponsor of TIRAP, WIA is the link between employers and the registered apprenticeship program. WIA manages and coordinates the development of apprenticeships for each participating employer, and fields inquiries from telecommunications companies interested in learning more.
November 29, 2017