The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) has received a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) to expand its telecom apprenticeship program. The grant is supplemented by more than $9 million in matching support from industry, including cash and in-kind contributions from WIA, PCCA, Ditch Witch, FS3, and participating employers, for a total commitment to apprenticeship of $15 million in a public-private partnership.
“I’m thrilled that DoL has recognized the critical role of tower techs, linemen, and other 5G workers in building our country’s information infrastructure and has provided new resources to expand that workforce,” said FCC Commissioner Bendan Carr. “The training offered at technical schools and through apprenticeships gives students a path up towers and into the middle class with only a couple of months in the classroom.”
The grant will provide the funding to design curricula and deliver training to develop qualified applicants for placement in middle- to high-skilled jobs nationwide that will accelerate 5G deployment. A consortium of public and private partners with 33 small and mid-sized employers have committed to create more than 5,500 new apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships, targeting veterans, transitioning service members, military spouses, women, people of color, the unemployed, underemployed and other underrepresented populations.
The program will be led by WIA and delivered through the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship (TIRAP) program, of which WIA is the national sponsor. TIRAP is a public-private partnership with the DOL, which is multi-employer apprenticeship program focused on developing the 5G workforce. Five schools have committed to the program, as well, including: State Technical College of Missouri, Terra State Community College (Ohio), Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Monroe County Community College (Mich.), and Somerset Community College (Ky.).
The DoL awarded grants to 28 public-private apprenticeship partnerships totaling nearly $100 million to support large-scale expansions of apprenticeship in industries, including advanced manufacturing, healthcare and information technology.
Separately, WIA pledged its support for a public-private partnership between Tower Engineering Professionals (TEP), the NATE — the Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association, the National Wireless Safety Alliance (NWSA), and Wake Technical Community College (WTCC) to develop curricula and train and certify Tower Technicians and develop apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships.
Apprenticeship Programs Attempt to Fill 6.4 Million Openings
President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on Expanding Apprenticeship in America called for increasing the number of apprentices in the United States across all industries. There are more than 6.4 million job openings reported in the United States and expanding apprenticeships will help individuals gain the skills necessary to fill these vacancies.
“These grants will further the Administration’s efforts to expand apprenticeships. For Americans who want an alternative to the traditional bachelor’s degree, apprenticeships are a way to learn valuable skills that lead to good paying careers,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “Companies across the country tell me that their greatest challenge today is finding the skilled workers they need. This funding will bolster America’s competitiveness by adding more skilled workers to fill millions of open jobs today and in the future.”
Secretary Scalia made the announcement during a trip to North Carolina State University, one of the grantees.
The “Apprenticeship: Closing the Skills Gap” grant program will support the training of more than 92,000 individuals in new or expanded apprenticeship programs for a range of employers, including small and medium-sized businesses, veterans, military spouses, service members re-entering the civilian workforce and groups underrepresented in current apprenticeship programs, including women and Americans reentering the workforce from the justice system.
The grant program supports apprenticeships that include a paid, work-based learning component and a required educational or instructional component that results in the issuance of an industry-recognized credential; and which meet appropriate quality assurance standards.
The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) has been selected for the fifth time by the U.S. Department of Labor – OSHA to receive a $160,000 Susan Harwood Targeted Topic Training Grant for the 2019-2020 program year. The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program awards grants to nonprofit organizations on a competitive basis, based on a Congressional appropriation.
The topic of the program is Fall Prevention in the Construction Industry, with an emphasis on wireless rooftop deployment and safety practices. The new curriculum to be developed will be tailored specifically to the communications infrastructure industry and include detailed instruction on wireless rooftop deployment and information workers need to know such as updates to the general industry OSHA Walking-Working Surfaces Rule and Fall Protection Standards, industry-specific rooftop fall protection procedures, hazard assessment protocols, antenna identification, RF awareness, RF controls and other applicable standards. Additionally, the training will include information regarding employee and employer rights and responsibilities under the OSH Act of 1970, whistle-blower complaint procedures and protection provisions.
“NATE is excited to leverage the Susan Harwood Grant in 2020 in order to offer Wireless Rooftop Deployment Training for free to industry employees and employers,” said NATE Project Coordinator Kimberly Elliott. “As network densification activities continue to ramp up throughout the country, rooftop installations will continue to rise and so the Association is excited to be able to positively impact the marketplace by developing and offering this training program,” added Elliott.
As a result of receiving the Harwood grant, NATE plans to host 12 Wireless Rooftop Deployment Training sessions throughout the country in 2020. NATE projects that a minimum of 336 employers and employees will receive Wireless Rooftop Deployment training throughout the grant period.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.
Heather Gastelum, T-Mobile’s senior manager for national site safety & T-Mobile for Business Development, and Stephanie Brewer, compliance coordinator for MUTI-Sabre Industries Telecom Services, have been elected to serve on WIA’s Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) Advisory Board.
“The TIRAP Board welcomes Heather and Stephanie and appreciates their vision toward building a trained and safe telecommunications workforce through apprenticeships. TIRAP is empowered when experienced leaders like Heather and Stephanie join in furthering our mission,” said TIRAP chairperson Paul Roberts, VP, Compliance, American Tower Corporation.
“TIRAP’s Advisory Board is expanding with just the right new members at a time when the industry is growing and when wireless workforce jobs are in the greatest demand,” said WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein. “We welcome Heather and Stephanie’s leadership to the Board and admire their commitment to the workforce and their leadership to diversify the industry. The TIRAP Board will grow stronger with their engagement.”
“Apprenticeship-based training is effective and practical for an industry where hands-on education and in-the-field mentorship is crucial,” said Grant Seiffert, TIRAP executive director and WIA’s VP of Workforce Development. “We are thrilled to bring Heather’s and Stephanie’s expertise to the TIRAP Advisory Board as we continue to forge ahead in developing a trained wireless workforce.”
Read more about Heather Gastelum and Stephanie Brewer.
U.S. Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) yesterday made a visit to an American Tower-owned cell tower located in Muskogee, Oklahoma, led by the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE), the Association’s Wireless Industry Network (WIN) and American Tower.
Congressman Mullin represents Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District and is a member of the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee where he has championed important communications and workforce development legislation. The tour was designed to highlight the prominent role that telecommunications technicians and wireless infrastructure are playing in the country’s efforts to provide ubiquitous broadband coverage and ultimately win the global race to 5G.
The event also provided a valuable platform to generate momentum for the bipartisan Communications Jobs Training Actof 2019legislation that has been introduced in the 116thCongress by Congressman Mullin and Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA).
“The Second District of Oklahoma is the only congressional district in the country where broadband is available to less than half the population,” Mullin said. “We must work to ensure rural areas are not stranded and that rural Americans are not left behind in the internet economy. I appreciate NATE, WIN and American Tower facilitating the tour today so I could see firsthand the role wireless infrastructure plays in expanding broadband to the communities I serve.”
During the event, Mullin received information on the multi-carrier network equipment that is installed on the tower. The congressman also visited with the NATE and American Tower representatives present about the work that is conducted on a daily basis building, maintaining and deploying communications tower sites and related wireless infrastructure. Congressman Mullin was also provided with a unique opportunity to experience wearing a harness and the personal protective equipment gear that technicians utilize to carry out their jobs in a safe and efficient manner.
Also during the tour, NATE member company B+T Group conducted a drone flight demonstration for Congressman Mullin in order to highlight the enhanced role that unmanned aerial systems technology is playing at communication sites around the country.
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.