A bipartisan quintet of senators has introduced a bill to help close the telecommunications workforce gap.
The senators are John Thune (R-S.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
The bill is the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act.
“This legislation builds off the work I’ve already done to make 5G a reality in South Dakota by getting skilled workers to industries that will deliver 5G services and technology across the country, particularly in rural areas of my state,” said Thune in a statement.
The bill would help create a next-gen workforce by:
1. "Establishing a Department of Labor (DOL)-led interagency working group that, in consultation with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other federal and non-federal stakeholders, would be tasked with developing recommendations to address the workforce needs of the telecommunications industry.
2. "Requiring the DOL, in consultation with the FCC, 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.
3. "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."
“CTIA supports the efforts of Senators Thune, Tester, Moran, Peters, and Wicker to ensure we have the skilled workforce necessary to deploy next-generation networks," said Kelly Cole, senior VP of CTIA, "which will enable the U.S. to secure its global leadership in the emerging 5G economy."
“NATE Chairman Jimmy Miller recently testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on the workforce development challenges currently confronting the industry," said Todd Schlekeway, executive director of the National Association of Tower Erectors. "NATE believes this bipartisan legislation is a strong response to the issues that were highlighted at the hearing and can serve as a springboard to fostering greater collaboration between the federal government and state workforce boards..."