With trained telecommunications workers in short supply and in high demand across the country, investing in workforce development is critical over the next five years. Fortunately, the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program provides funding, regulation, and guidance to create and sustain the personnel necessary to build and maintain the nation’s critical infrastructure.
“Workforce development and job training in support of the infrastructure workforce is an eligible use of [BEAD] program funding,” said Lucy Moore, Special Policy Advisor, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). “NTIA is proud to support the Department of Commerce's commitment to a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allows the $42.45 billion in BEAD money to be used in workforce and job training. NTIA has provided a Workforce Planning Guide to support the BEAD program with information on what components a BEAD workforce plan should have, how to develop such a plan, strategies and examples for meeting workforce requirements, and additional resources to support BEAD workforce planning and implementation processes.
But there’s much more than the Workforce Planning Guide to keep in mind. “Industry stakeholders should become familiar with the requirements and recommendations in the BEAD [Notice of Funding Opportunity] related to workforce requirements,” said Moore. “There are requirements in the BEAD NOFO that are necessary for complete and successful five-year action plans, initial proposals, and final proposals. There's also [NTIA] guidance, which is strongly encouraged to promote a skilled, diverse, and inclusive workforce.”
Eligible BEAD funding entities will be held to federal labor and employment laws that apply to all employees in the United States. Entities will determine the combination of skilled workforce requirements and guidance that will shape the experience of on-site workers who will build and service high-speed network infrastructure, with requirements potentially varying by state.
NTIA plans to release additional tools in the months to come, including case studies to how to use the workforce landscape and best practices checklist included as part of the additional resources within the Workforce Planning Guide.
For more details on what NTIA is doing to promote workforce development through BEAD, tune in to the latest Fiber For Breakfast podcast.