The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed legislation yesterday to address the shortage of trained workers in the telecommunications industry in communities throughout the country, which was introduced by U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband.
Thune praised the passage of the bipartisan Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act, which he said would help fill the need for 20,000 additional tower climbers to deploy next generation wireless technology.
“In order to reap the benefits of 5G, we must have a skilled workforce in place to deploy the infrastructure necessary to support the technology,” Thune said. “This legislation will help increase the number of workers enrolled in 5G training programs and identify ways to grow the telecommunications workforce.”
Workforce development has become a top priority for NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association, according to President and CEO Todd Schlekeway.
“The passage of the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is a critical next step in the process to foster greater collaboration between the federal government, state workforce board, higher education and industry to ultimately develop a future pipeline of skilled technicians,” Schlekeway said.
The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) noted that 5G is estimated to create 4.5 million jobs and have an economic impact of $1.5 trillion over the next decade.
“This legislation will help the nation win the race to 5G by focusing on developing the wireless workforce through registered apprenticeship – a scalable earn-while-you-learn career path,” WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein said in a prepared statement. “We thank Sen. Thune for his leadership on this important issue and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) for their support.”
The bill would help fill the shortage of workers by: