Senate Commerce Committee Passes Telecommunications Workforce Act
Wednesday, April 28, 2021 | Comments

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee passed the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act, which would direct the FCC to take actions to help address the workforce needs of the telecommunications industry.

“Connectivity powered the economy throughout the pandemic,” said Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein. “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 4.5 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.”

Specifically, the bill would require the FCC to establish an interagency working group to develop recommendations for addressing the workforce needs of the industry. Additionally, the FCC would be required to establish and issue guidance on how states can meet the industry’s workforce needs.

That guidance should include how a state workforce development board can use federal resources to meet telecommunications industry workforce needs and how such boards can promote and improve recruitment in qualified industry-led workforce development programs including the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program.

The bill would also require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to submit a report that estimates the 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 to Congress.

"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 National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) President and 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.”

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