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Walberg, Clarke Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Build Skilled Telecom Workforce

February 11, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act to help close the workforce shortage in the telecommunications industry. This bipartisan legislation reflects the need for developing a workforce equipped to deploy 5G technology and broadband infrastructure to underserved communities. U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

“Deploying next generation technologies and developing a skilled workforce are critical objectives that go hand-in-hand,” said Walberg. “As rural communities experience the increasing need for high-speed broadband access, the demand for a qualified workforce to build out this infrastructure is greater than ever. I am pleased to collaborate on this bipartisan, bicameral effort to help close the skills gap, expand opportunities for good-paying jobs, and bridge the digital divide.”

“Today’s workforce must meet the need for the ever-advancing telecom industrial revolution. Women and people of color continue to face dramatic underrepresentation in this industry. This must change immediately,” said Clarke. “I am committed to championing legislation addressing workforce inequities. Ensuring an equitable workforce in our country’s race to 5G will benefit all Americans. I am proud to lead this bipartisan effort to combat workforce inequities in the telecom industry."

“This legislation is a win-win when it comes to deploying 5G technology and rural broadband services across America, while also ensuring skilled workers have the training necessary for good-paying jobs in the telecommunications industry,” said Thune. “I look forward to working with my House colleagues, Representatives Walberg and Clarke, to advance this important bipartisan, bicameral legislation.”

Support for the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act 
“NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association strongly supports the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act that was introduced today in the United States House of Representatives by Congresswoman Clarke and Congressman Walberg. Representatives Clarke and Walberg have been outstanding advocates for the industry in Congress and possess a keen understanding of the challenges the industry is confronted with from a workforce perspective. NATE believes that the provisions outlined in the bipartisan Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act can serve as a springboard to fostering greater collaboration between the federal government, state workforce boards, higher education and private sector companies to accomplish the ultimate goal of developing a future pipeline of skilled technicians that the country sorely needs to meet its ambitious broadband and 5G deployment objectives.” – Todd Schlekeway, president and CEO of NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association

“One thing I hear often from NTCA members is the need for skilled workers. At the increasing rate of broadband deployment, the telecommunications industry is expected to see substantial demands to fill new jobs in coming years. As we are all focused on expanding connectivity and helping Americans find jobs, now is the perfect time to support workforce development in the telecommunications industry. NTCA thanks Reps. Walberg and Clarke for introducing the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act.” – Shirley Bloomfield, chief executive officer, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association

“The Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act is the right solution to address the telecommunications skills gap so the U.S. can win the race to 5G. This bill places the focus where it’s needed for developing the wireless workforce through apprenticeship, such as the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program – the first training program of its kind for wireless jobs,” said WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein. “With the workforce prepared, 5G will create three million jobs and an annual economic growth impact of $500 billion to the economy. WIA thanks Reps. Walberg and Clarke for their leadership on this important issue.”

“One lesson from the pandemic? We must prepare a highly skilled broadband workforce in order to build and maintain the lifesaving communications networks that connected the country when it most needed it. As 5G and next generation technologies continue to roll out, Congressman Walberg and Congresswoman Clarke have a bipartisan, strategic and timely plan to bring policymakers and innovators together to identify, train and employ the world’s best 5G and broadband workforce and strengthen our connected leadership now and in the years ahead.” – Jonathan Spalter, President and CEO of USTelecom – The Broadband Association

“CTIA thanks Representatives Walberg and Clarke for introducing the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act. According to a recent study by Boston Consulting Group, the 5G Economy is poised to contribute $1.5 trillion and 4.5 million jobs to the U.S. economy in the next decade, and this legislation will help ensure that every community across the country has the workforce they need to deploy and benefit from next-generation networks.” – Kelly Cole, senior vice president, government affairs of CTIA