The Fiber Broadband Association published a guidebook Thursday aimed at helping states develop a workforce strategy for the National Telecommunications and Information Association’s $42.5 billion Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment program.
The Fiber Broadband Association, an industry group, estimates that more than 205,000 new jobs will need to be created to complete the BEAD broadband expansion plans.
With construction labor shortages in many states, the NTIA is requiring each state to outline in a five-year plan how it will source or train workers with the necessary skills to complete broadband expansion plans.
The association’s guidebook focuses on strategies for training and upskilling workers, with practical guidance on how to craft an effective strategy.
“There is a lot of focus placed on building broadband networks, but we cannot build them without a proper workforce,” association President and CEO Gary Bolton said in a press release. “Failure to ensure the availability of high-skilled labor will result in workforce bottlenecks, which will ultimately lead to higher costs and project delays.”
At a recent conference hosted by the Telecommunications Industry Association, Richard Zinno, vice president of the construction company MasTec, urged states to address training pipelines.
“This is a workforce challenges that is going to persist for the next six or seven years,” Zinno said at the event. “There’s considerable doubt in the industry, and amongst states, that the build-out projections can be met within the four-year timeline.”