On July 15, OSTP hosted more than 80 leaders from wireless companies, Federal agencies, and academic institutions at the White House Summit On Wireless Workforce Development, focusing on the urgent need to train workers for careers in the wireless industry and commitments that will change the trajectory of workforce development for the wireless industry.
The attendees recognized the great opportunity to create an even more diverse workforce through increased recruitment of underrepresented persons, including Veterans, women, and minorities.
There is a nexus between the highly skilled Veterans community and the skill sets required for wireless-infrastructure deployment. Leveraging this nexus will help improve the proficiency of the workforce that builds, upgrades, and maintains wireless infrastructure, ensuring that America can meet the growing demand for wireless broadband, and enabling the United States to continue to lead in the global telecommunications marketplace.
In response to OSTP’s call to action, Personal Communications Industry Association (PCIA), the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP), and Warriors 4 Wireless (W4W) collaborated to define three basic goals to improve workforce training for the wireless industry: identifying best-of-class curricula, creating model apprenticeships through TIRAP, and expanding diversity. Realizing these objectives will enable the wireless industry to keep up with evolving technology and the massive buildout of infrastructure needed to meet consumer demand for wireless data.
Warriors 4 Wireless has already placed or graduated over 700 Veterans from its groundbreaking program. Retired Master Sergeant Gerald Patterson, who attended OSTP’s June 15 event, completed the W4W program and now holds a leadership position with a top wireless infrastructure company. Patterson said “Veterans have the ‘it’ factor that employers are looking for!” He elaborated on the Veteran skill set, which includes project oversight, team-building, and personnel management.
The Obama Administration understands the role of broadband in creating jobs and fostering economic development. America’s connected economy will only succeed if we continue to meet the ever-expanding demand for wireless data. This demand cannot be met without a properly trained workforce that realizes the value of safety – something our Veteran community knows well. The summit attendees recognized that developing best practices to be taught through training and apprenticeships is key to meeting the industry’s specialized needs.
Wireless-workforce training is imperative to America’s economic and technological future. This is why cooperation between public and private leaders is so promising. The outpouring of support from participants last week made clear that there is a strong impetus for continuing to expand the opportunities available in the wireless industry for Veterans and other skilled workers nationwide.
Nick Maynard is Assistant Director for Telecommunications Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Royce Ebenal is an Intern in the Science Division at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and a U.S. Army Veteran.