The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee passed the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act today, legislation to address the shortage of trained workers necessary to fill next-generation jobs in the telecommunications industry in communities through the country.
The Bill, S. 163, introduced by Senators John Thune (R-SD), Jon Tester (D-MT), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Gary Peters (D-MI) heads to the full U.S. Senate before it goes to the House of Representatives where it is also expected to pass to assist in supporting efforts to provide broadband to underserved areas of the country.
Concurrent legislation, H. R. 1032, has been introduced in the House by Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY). The House version has yet to have its hearing in committee.
The Senate Bill addresses the shortage of trained workers necessary to fill next-generation jobs by:
- Establishing an FCC-led interagency working group that, in consultation with the Department of Labor (DOL) and other federal and non-federal stakeholders, would be tasked with developing recommendations to address the workforce needs of the telecommunications industry.
- Requiring the FCC, in consultation with DOL, to issue guidance on how states can address the workforce shortage in the telecommunications industry by identifying all of the federal resources currently available to them that can be used for workforce development efforts.
- Directing the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study to determine the specific number of skilled telecommunications workers that will be required to build and maintain broadband infrastructure in rural areas and the 5G wireless infrastructure needed to support 5G wireless technology.
NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association issued the following statement after today’s passage:
“Workforce Development has emerged as a top priority for NATE and our dynamic industry and today’s 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 boards, higher education and industry to ultimately develop a future pipeline of skilled technicians,” said President & CEO Todd Schlekeway.
“NATE applauds the bipartisan leadership of Senators Thune, Tester, Wicker, Moran and Peters for ushering this important legislation through the Commerce Committee and looks forward to seeing the bill continue to garner support in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives,” added Schlekeway.
The Wireless Infrastructure Association also thanked the Bill’s sponsors.
“Connectivity powered the economy throughout the pandemic. The Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act supports training and upskilling the workforce needed to build out and maintain the wireless networks that keep us connected. With 5G estimated to create 4.5million 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. We thank Sen. Thune for his leadership on this important issue and Sens. Tester, Wicker, Moran, and Peters for their support,” said WIA Preisdent and CEO Jonathan Adelstein.