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IMPACT Bill Would Train Minority Telecom Workforce

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Gary Arlen)

The Improving Minority Participation and Careers in Telecommunications Act (IMPACT) has been introduced by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Ohio), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

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The bill would create a $100 million federal grant program at the National Telecommunications & Information Administration. The money would go to certain institutions of higher learning to train students for the telecom workforce. Those institutions would primarily be Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities and minority serving institutions.

To get the grant, the schools would have to work with industry and or organizations with telecom training experience. There is also a provision tied to increasing female participation.

Todd Schlekeway, president of NATE, the Communications Infrastructure Association, said the bill "appropriately recognizes the critical importance of promoting educational and employment opportunities in the telecommunications field, which is so essential to the nation’s economy, competitiveness, security, and vital communications capabilities."

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He said the legislation could be a major pipeline of future workers.

“We commend Senators Roger Wicker, Kyrsten Sinema and Tim Scott for their bipartisan leadership in introducing the IMPACT Act, which would establish telecommunications job-training programs for students at HBCUs and Tribal Colleges and Universities, funded through NTIA grants," said Kelly Cole, senior VP at CTIA-The Wireless Association. "The swift deployment of 5G networks is critical to our economic recovery and closing the digital divide, and the wireless industry needs a robust, skilled workforce to meet our goals."

“I applaud Senator Wicker and his colleagues for their leadership in taking on this workforce challenge and introducing legislation that would help create thousands of good-paying jobs while closing the digital divide and advancing our 5G leadership," said FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, who led an initiative under FCC Chairman Ait Pai to streamline network buildouts.