As the Biden administration considers federal broadband initiatives, 10 telecom industry associations are urging the administration to include support for broadband skills training in those plans.
In a joint letter to the White House and Congress, the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA), INCOMPAS, NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, Power & Communication Contractors Association (PCCA), the Telecommunications Industry Association, USTelecom – The Broadband Association, the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA), and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) asked for any infrastructure legislation to include support for broadband-related job skills.
The industry expects as many as 3 million jobs to be created as a result of expansion of 5G communications. The technology is also expected to contribute $500 billion annually to the economy, according to the associations.
The letter proposes that apprenticeship programs would offer diversity, safety and good-paying jobs. The industry already employs some 672,000 workers, while average annual wages are in excess of $77,500.
“Apprenticeship, as Congress has long recognized, is a time-tested, industry-driven, career pathway through which employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and workers can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a nationally recognized credential. We, therefore, urge broadband infrastructure legislation to provide support for employers to expand registered apprenticeships and associated technical instruction and certification costs,” the letter about training and federal broadband initiatives states.
To help promote diversity, the associations also asked the White House and Congress to focus on working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities for industry-higher education partnerships.
“Congress should also bolster the capabilities of institutions of higher education, which have not kept pace with the rapid growth of our industry and the need for curricula necessary to ensure a diverse workforce capable of deploying fiber and 5G infrastructure for commercial mobile and fixed wireless networks,” the letter said.
To see the impact broadband jobs can have, one only has to look at the effect of gigabit infrastructure buildout in Chatanooga, Tenn., which generated an estimated $2.7 billion in economic benefits over the last decade, according to a recent report.