Law360: Legislators Seek DOL's Plans For 5G Workforce Training

Law360 (June 13, 2019, 6:52 PM EDT) -- Two lawmakers want to know what the U.S. Department of Labor is doing to make sure there’s a trained workforce ready to deploy and maintain the next generation of wireless services, echoing sentiments from the Federal Communications Commission that a stout workforce is key to winning the race to 5G.

Reps. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., and Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., sent a letter to the department Tuesday asking it to outline the steps it’s taking to make sure there’s a “highly-skilled workforce” prepared to handle the next generation of wireless services.

“As we transition to 5G, it is critical that we ensure a highly-skilled workforce with the training necessary to sufficiently deploy 5G services and infrastructure,” the House members said in their letter. “In turn, this will produce more competitive workers and ensure new and emerging wireless technologies reach Americans across the country more quickly.”

The letter urged the Labor Department to keep the 5G workforce in mind as it mulled opportunities to put funds toward workforce expansion and development.

Some officials within the Federal Communications Commission have their own ideas about building the 5G workforce.

Commissioner Brendan Carr said recently that the country will need about 20,000 tower technicians for the build-out, and he hopes community colleges can become a pipeline for such workers.

Carr, who was tapped by President Donald Trump to serve on the commission in 2017, made his comments about the 5G workforce while touring the Tower Installation Program at Aiken Technical College in South Carolina. He said he hoped the program, which gives students practical and classroom training over seven weeks to help workers find jobs as tower climbers, could be expanded to fill the gap in the U.S.

He also had praise earlier this year for the Wireless Infrastructure Association and the Power & Communication Contractors Association after they announced they would be teaming up to expand wireless workforce initiatives, calling it “more good news for 5G.”

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