Study: Tie Broadband-Adoption Programs To Jobs

Efforts to shrink the broadband-adoption gap between African-American and white U.S. households should link high-speed Internet access to jobs, a National Urban League study funded by Time Warner Cable recommended.

The report suggested several measures to drive broadband adoption through jobs, including: creating workforce training in broadband sectors that incorporate jobs placement; creating broadband-enabled human capital in economically hard-hit communities; and partnering with broadband businesses to connect job training with job placement.

The NUL study found that the widest gap between African-Americans and white Americans in using broadband for job information is among those with less education: 77% of blacks without a high school diploma and 79% with only a high school diploma went online to search for jobs in 2009 and 2010, according to research by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. That's compared with 17% and 35%, respectively, for white Americans with similar education levels.

As such, the NUL report also recommended targeting broadband-adoption programs specifically at high-school dropouts, as well as households with less than $20,000 in annual income.

In addition, the report said solutions tying broadband to jobs should "address the features of communities, geographies and sectors"; promote business-to-business broadband activity; and eradicate structural inequalities that "flow through to new sectors."

Overall, the broadband gap between blacks and whites is narrowing -- but it's still significant. In 2010, the home broadband adoption gap between African-Americans and whites was 11 percentage points, versus 19 points in 2009, the NUL study said, citing data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

National Cable & Telecommunications Association president and CEO Michael Powell commended the report.

"We applaud the National Urban League for publishing these important findings which can help guide the entire broadband ecosystem in our effort to connect more Americans to the powerful economic, social and educational benefits that broadband offers," Powell said in a statement. "As Time Warner Cable has demonstrated by underwriting the Urban League research, the cable industry is working closely with the FCC and many community partners to shrink the broadband adoption gap. We'll continue to explore new ways to effectively convince all Americans that broadband is the key to unleashing opportunity."

The report, "Connecting the Dots: Linking Broadband Adoption to Job Creation and Job Competitiveness," was authored by Madura Wijewardena, Chanelle Hardy and Dr. Valerie Wilson.

An executive summary of the report is available here and the full report is available to download from Time Warner Cable's Research Program on Digital Communications site here.