UPDATE Reaction to the introduction of a bill to help close the workforce shortage in the tower industry has been favorable. H.R. 3255, the TOWER Infrastructure Deployment Act, reflects the need for a highly-skilled, professional workforce equipped to deploy 5G, faster broadband networks, and new broadcast technology.
“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,” said co-sponsor Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI). Streamlining workforce development programs and promoting industry collaboration will free up resources for greater broadband deployment instead of recreating the same curriculum across the country, he added.
Co-sponsor Yvette Clarke (D-NY) said: “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.”
The bill would establish a Telecommunications Workforce Development Advisory Council to the FCC. Among other members, the measure spells out a representative from the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program, or TIRAP, would serve on the advisory council, Inside Towers reported.
The Wireless Infrastructure Association is the national sponsor of TIRAP. In a press release issued by Rep. Walberg’s office Friday, WIA was quoted as saying it appreciates congressional attention to the workforce issue.
“The road to 5G cannot be slowed by the lack of a trained workforce,” WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein said. “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 added, the wireless infrastructure industry will continue leading efforts to develop a skilled, professional workforce capable of deploying next-generation wireless networks.
The National Association of Tower Erectors supports the measure as well, Inside Towers reported. “NATE views this 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,” stated NATE Legislative & Regulatory Affairs Director Jim Goldwater. “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,” added Goldwater.
CTIA SVP Government Affairs Kelly Cole stated: “The wireless industry is projected to spend $275 billion to deploy 5G networks, creating three million wireless-related jobs, of which an important segment will be in infrastructure and construction. This legislation will help ensure we have the skilled workforce necessary to deploy next-generation networks.”
Broadcasters looked favorably on the bill’s introduction as well. The NAB tweeted the legislation would address the workforce shortage as new technology, including Next Gen TV, is deployed.
June 17, 2019
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