Senators Introduce Bi-Partisan Bill to Address Telecommunications Workforce ShortageThe following statement may be attributed to Christina Mason, VP of Government Affairs, WISPA:
Washington, DC, March 25, 2021 – To eradicate the digital divide, a multifaceted approach is required. Infrastructure has to make it out to areas that lack broadband, but a major stumbling block to that is the skilled expertise needed to realize new connectivity. Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Tribal Colleges and Universities can play a major role in addressing this needed glut, providing important job training opportunities for their students. And the IMPACT Act, introduced by Senators Roger F. Wicker, Tim Scott, and Kyrsten Sinema, would provide the needed funds and comprehensive framework to make that happen.
The IMPACT Act creates a $100 million "Telecommunications Workforce Training Grant Program" through the NTIA focused on HBCUs/TCUs/Minority-serving Institutions to develop telecommunications job-training programs for costs associated with instruction, internships and apprenticeships, and support of students in the field, among other aspects. The plan would also focus on getting more female students into the telecommunications training program, too – a core but grossly untapped constituency that would go far to improve workforce capacity in this important sector of our economy.
WISPA believes the IMPACT Act will make a positive impact on broadband connectivity, and, perhaps more importantly, the individuals gaining new opportunities with its funding. It will work to bring broadband connectivity to areas that lack it, while boosting the competitive jobs skills of those who have traditionally been underrepresented in the U.S. information and communications technology industry. We stand by this important piece of legislation, and pledge our best efforts to see that it comes into law.
WISPA’s 1000 members are composed of fixed Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) and the industry that supports fixed wireless broadband, including equipment suppliers, support services, and other components needed to run a successful business. Our members, and WISPs, in general, provide broadband access to millions of residential and business customers, often in exclusively rural areas.