The past nine months since the COVID-19 pandemic began have presented unprecedented challenges and hardship for our nation. We’ve seen industries upended, sectors struggling with crisis, and employment plummeting in ways that worry many for the future. Yet, by comparison, the telecommunications industry has been not only remarkably stable, but a critical economic driver as we have learned to work, conduct commerce, and connect in different ways. In fact, it is poised to “boom” with opportunity. Indeed, one of the most encouraging data points about the future of our economy is focused on telecommunications: experts predict that 4.6 million jobs will be created because of 5G.
Through our many conversations with employers, we know that the telecommunications “skills gap” is a challenge because demand for filling increasingly complex jobs is outpacing the talent pool. Developing our industry’s workforce has been a priority of WIA for the past 4 years. In 2018, WIA examined this “skills gaps” challenge and published a report that underlines the importance of training and education for new skills that are needed for jobs related to 5G, and WIA has developed various initiatives to close this gap.
In particular, we have taken a leading role in the development of a time-tested career pathway: registered apprenticeship.
The Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) offers the opportunity for earn-while-you-learn experience plus an industry-recognized credential that guarantees a certain amount of training, while simultaneously improving loyalty and strengthening skill sets.
In fact, 94% of apprentices who complete an apprenticeship program retain employment which means less turnover and more retention of knowledge within your company, improving bottom lines and freeing investment funds.
Additionally, with new funding from the Department of Labor, $400,000 is available annually to support employers with adoption and implementation of registered apprenticeship programs.
Apprenticeship programs, such as TIRAP, also foster a diverse and inclusive culture. This industry offers endless opportunity for those that want to join this industry, and cultivating diversity puts the industry on the path to a truly representative workforce. More and more companies recognize the benefits of a diverse and highly skilled workforce, and participating in a registered apprenticeship program is a strong path to achieve inclusion goals.
This is National Apprenticeship Week – an annual celebration of apprentices and apprenticeship programs across the country, and WIA is proud to have issued a proclamation for this celebration. This Wednesday is also Veterans Day, and many apprentices in the telecommunications industry have served our country. This is a great time to be optimistic about the workforce of the future. There are 33 telecommunications companies that have already signed 2,500 apprenticeship agreements into TIRAP, and this number continues to grow.
WIA’s Telecommunications Education Center also offers training and education for the telecommunications industry. TEC has already provided training to 2,000 students, improving safety and quality of work within the industry. Courses are available on-demand or through customized, webinar-style formats, and courses are continuing to be converted to virtual courses so enrollees can learn safely.
WIA is committed to advancing your company and supporting your recruitment, development, and retention as the nation prepares to hire 4.6 million people for the jobs of the future.
WIA Executive Vice President