Reps. Yvette D. Clarke, D-N.Y., and Tim Walberg R-Mich., introduced new legislation on June 13 to “help close the workforce shortage in the telecommunications industry.” The legislators said the TOWER Infrastructure Deployment Act, H.R. 3255, “reflects the need for a highly-skilled, professional workforce equipped to deploy 5G, lightning-fast broadband networks, and new broadcast technology.”

If passed, the legislation would create an advisory council at the Federal Communications Commission. The Commission would examine the needs of the telecom industry as it “transitions to new technologies like 5G, next-generation broadband, and next-generation television.” As part of its work, the council would develop recommendations to help improve workforce development in the industry, specifically for underrepresented communities. Additionally, the council would also be required to report on the needs of the telecom industry.

“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 Walberg. “By streamlining workforce development programs and promoting industry collaboration, we can free up resources for greater broadband deployment instead of recreating the same curriculum across the country.”

The legislation was also praised by industry groups.

“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,” Jonathan Adelstein, president and CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association. “The wireless infrastructure industry will continue leading efforts to develop a skilled, professional workforce capable of deploying next-generation wireless networks. The road to 5G cannot be slowed by the lack of a trained workforce.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.