5G Workforce Training Gains Momentum in White House, Congress, Government Agencies

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) today applauded the unprecedented focus that government agencies, Congress, and the White House have placed on training the 5G workforce. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held two hearings within one week of each other – today’s “The 5G Workforce and Obstacles to Broadband Deployment” and “Industries of the Future” (Jan. 15, 2020). 

Yesterday, at the World Economic Forum, President Trump highlighted the need to train workers in “critical industries like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 5G.”

“We have never seen more laser-like focus simultaneously from the White House, Congress, and the FCC on the urgent need to develop the wireless workforce to win the race to 5G. I’m especially thrilled with the bipartisan support on all levels of government for apprenticeships through the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP),” said WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein. “We thank the Administration, members of Congress, and FCC Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, and Rosenworcel for expressing their strong commitment to developing the 5G wireless workforce.”

Highlights from 5G Workforce and Obstacles to Broadband Deployment hearing:

Brendan Carr, FCC Commissioner, said “TIRAP already supports 2,085 apprenticeships with 30 different employers. Apprenticeship programs like this hold great promise because they allow those with obligations or families to support a chance to earn while they learn. DOL’s continued focus on support for 5G jobs can help address the workforce challenge.”

He also said the federal government should provide the same support for technical workforce training as it does for non-technical education.

Sen. Roger Wicker, (R-MS), said “To address 5G workforce needs, the Department of Labor is engaged in a joint effort with the telecommunications industry and other government agencies to provide training and improve technical skills among the telecommunications workforce. The Department of Labor’s Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship program, in conjunction with the Wireless Infrastructure Association, is a good example of efforts targeted at addressing this skills gap.”

Sen. Gary Peters, (D-MI), said that programs are underfunded. He called for strengthening apprenticeships like TIRAP and said apprenticeships are the most effective way to train for 5G jobs. 

Jimmy Miller, President and Chief Executive Officer, MillerCo, Inc.; Chairman, National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE); Advisory Board member, TIRAP, said, “It is essential that DOL place a priority on developing the 5G workforce through apprenticeships as an industry of the future that will create jobs in virtually every sector of the economy.”

Highlights from Industries of the Future hearing:

Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC Commissioner, said that we need to make training for jobs of the future a priority, and we need more people to be trained for these jobs.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, (D-CT), said that there is no more important priority than training for jobs of the future.

Mike O’Rielly, FCC Commissioner, said that the Department of Labor, rather than the FCC, “may be better positioned to exert some leadership” when it comes to the “extensive,” “systemic” on-the-job training needed for a trained 5G workforce.