Politico: Spectrum Caucus heads urge Labor Department to think 5G

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Washington, D.C., June 11, 2019 | comments

The heads of the Congressional Spectrum Caucus today nudged Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to make jobs supporting and advancing 5G technology a part of Trump administration workforce training initiatives.

The Labor Department “has an important role to play in promoting continued U.S. leadership by supporting the development of a qualified workforce ready to assist in the deployment of next generation broadband networks,” wrote Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) in a letter today.

The two lawmakers ask what steps the Labor Department is eyeing “to support and advance specific training or apprenticeship programs that will promote U.S. efforts to win the race to 5G.”

Last year, the Labor Department announced plans to issue $150 million in grants supporting apprenticeships in what it dubbed key industry sectors. The department has not outlined precisely how 5G skills may factor into its initiatives.

“As you continue to seek workforce expansion and development opportunities, the deployment of wireless technologies offers the opportunity to invest in training that will both help expand broadband access across the country and promote American leadership,” Matsui and Guthrie told Acosta.

Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has been one of the administration's leading voices on 5G jobs and has been in contact with the Labor Department. He has touted the merits of apprenticeships.

“With new builds underway, industry could now fill 20,000 job openings for tower techs,” Carr said in a speech last month. “These are good-paying jobs that could bring thousands of families into the middle class.”

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