WIA Awarded $6 Million DOL Grant to Train 5G Workforce

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) announced that the U.S. Department of Labor awarded it a $6 million grant to expand apprenticeship in the telecommunications industry. The grant program, Apprenticeship: Closing the Skills Gap, is designed to support large-scale expansions of apprenticeship. In partnership with the Power & Communication Contractors Association (PCCA), the grant will be used to train a 5G workforce, an integral part of winning the global race to 5G. Five institutions of higher education have already committed as technical partner schools. The nearly $6 million grant is supplemented by over $9 million in matching support from industry, including cash and in-kind contributions from WIA, PCCA, Ditch Witch, FS3, and participating employers, for a total commitment to apprenticeship of $15 million in a public-private partnership.

The grant will provide the necessary funding to design curricula and deliver training to develop qualified applicants for placement in middle- to high-skilled jobs nationwide that will accelerate 5G deployment for America’s 5G Apprenticeship Initiative. The program will be led by WIA and delivered through the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship (TIRAP) program, of which WIA is the national sponsor. TIRAP is a public-private partnership with the Department of Labor (DOL) that is the first and only multi-employer apprenticeship effort focused on developing the 5G workforce.

America’s 5G Apprenticeship Initiative will engage a consortium of public and private partners with 33 small and mid-sized employers committing to create over 5,500 new apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships in this rapidly evolving sector. These industry-driven, competency-based apprenticeships will target veterans; transitioning service members; military spouses; women; people of color; unemployed, underemployed, and incumbent workers; and other underrepresented populations.

Five committed technical partner schools include: State Technical College of Missouri, Terra State Community College (Ohio), Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Monroe County Community College (Mich.), and Somerset Community College (Ky.).

WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein: “WIA is thrilled to win this grant to provide a foundation for 5G skills training through apprenticeship. It will help equip America’s future workforce with the skills needed to build next-generation wireless networks to lead the global race to 5G. Apprenticeship allows Americans to earn while they learn, and once they complete training, they will have access to good-paying jobs with a defined career path. We can’t let the road to 5G be blocked by the lack of a trained workforce. We thank PCCA for their partnership and leadership in establishing programs at schools. Winning the race to 5G is a national imperative, and we thank the Department of Labor and Secretary Scalia for recognizing that a properly trained workforce will help America win this race.”

PCCA Chief Executive Officer Tim Wagner: “Thank you to the U.S. Department of Labor for recognizing a great need and taking decisive action. This grant will greatly accelerate the good work that PCCA’s Education Committee and Education & Research Foundation have undertaken to tackle the broadband industry’s critical workforce shortage. PCCA and its foundation are now poised to help train the workforce necessary to realize the promise of the nation’s 5G network. All of PCCA thanks Sellenriek Construction for having the vision to involve State Technical College of Missouri in their workforce solution and Mark Bridgers for conceiving the idea of a standardized curriculum and for moving the ball forward with the PCCA-affiliated schools. And I would like to thank Jonathan Adelstein, Grant Seiffert, and the WIA staff for their diligence and expertise at navigating the federal grant domain.”

Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr: “I’m thrilled that DOL has recognized the critical role of tower techs, linemen, and other 5G workers in building our country’s information infrastructure and has provided new resources to expand that workforce. The training offered at technical schools and through apprenticeships gives students a path up towers and into the middle class with only a couple of months in the classroom. These careers support families and our nation’s critical infrastructure. Congratulations to WIA for being selected for the grant and its leadership in 5G workforce training.”

DOL Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia in a press release, “These grants will further the Administration’s efforts to expand apprenticeships. For Americans who want an alternative to the traditional bachelor’s degree, apprenticeships are a way to learn valuable skills that lead to good paying careers. Companies across the country tell me that their greatest challenge today is finding the skilled workers they need. This funding will bolster America’s competitiveness by adding more skilled workers to fill millions of open jobs today and in the future.”


February 19, 2020

Amy-Gabrielle Bartolac | Public Affairs Manager, WIA
Amy-Gabrielle.Bartolac@wia.org | 703-621-0527

Tim Wagner | Executive Vice President, PCCA
twagner@pccaweb.org | (703) 212-7736