The wireless infrastructure industry found lots to cheer about in a bill establishing a Telecommunications Workforce Development Advisory Council at the FCC, which was introduced last week. The bill, authored by U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY), would facilitate the participation in industry specific workforce development programs and identify ways to improve workforce development in the communications industry.
The advisory council would be made up of a member of the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; a State agency; a local agency a Tribal agency, the communications industry and a minority institution.
Jonathan Adelstein, president and CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association, commended Reps. Walberg and Clarke for introducing the bill and for including a representative from TIRAP to serve on the newly formed Advisory Council.
“This measure will provide the necessary focus to help train a 5G-ready workforce, including the need for apprenticeships in telecommunications, which is imperative for the U.S. to win the global 5G race,” Adelstein said. “The wireless infrastructure industry will continue leading efforts to develop a skilled, professional workforce capable of deploying next-generation wireless networks. The road to 5G cannot be slowed by the lack of a trained workforce. We deeply appreciate the leadership of Reps. Walberg and Clarke on creating the jobs of the future for growing the wireless workforce.”
National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) Legislative & Regulatory Affairs Director Jim Goldwater also voiced his support for the Tower Infrastructure Deployment Act.
“NATE views this bipartisan legislation as another important vehicle to highlight the workforce needs of our diverse industry as we begin to ramp up for the protracted 5G deployment cycle,” Goldwater said. “The Association stands ready to collaborate with members of Congress and the FCC to participate in the workforce development specific initiatives that emerge upon the passage of this bill.”
Through his work on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Walberg has been focused on bringing next-generation connectivity to rural communities, according to Adelstein. Building on the committee’s success last Congress to help streamline infrastructure regulations and expand access to critical spectrum, this bill fills in another part of the equation: preparing a skilled workforce to bring these technologies to reality, he added.
Rep. Walberg, said, “As the telecom industry deploys next generation technologies, there are tens of thousands of good-paying, highly-skilled jobs but nobody to fill them. Developing a skilled workforce needs to be a top priority. By streamlining workforce development programs and promoting industry collaboration, we can free up resources for greater broadband deployment instead of recreating the same curriculum across the country.”
About H.R. 3255, the TOWER Infrastructure Deployment Act of 2019
In particular, The ‘‘Telecommunications Opportunities for Workers Engaging in Real Infrastructure Deployment Act of 2019’’ or the ‘‘TOWER Infrastructure Deployment Act’’ would establish a council that would advise the commission on the needs of the workforce in the communications industry to promote the deployment of communications facility installations, ways to encourage participation in industry-led workforce development programs, and ways to improve workforce development in the communications industry.
The advisory council would examine the needs of the telecommunications industry as it transitions to new technologies like 5G, next-generation broadband, and next-generation television. In turn, the council would develop recommendations to improve and streamline workforce development in the telecommunications industry, especially for underrepresented communities. Additionally, the council would also report information about the needs of the telecommunications industry and recommendations to improve participation in workforce development programs.
“Women and people of color are underrepresented in the telecom industry, which is why I am committed to drafting and supporting legislation that addresses this unacceptable reality. As a black woman, I know how capable women and people of color are which compelled me to lead a bipartisan effort to address the telecom industry’s workforce diversity shortage. I am excited to witness my fellow women and people of color who will act as trailblazers in bringing 5G to America,” said Rep. Clarke.