Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted Monday announced the Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership Grant application, as well as the 5G Readiness Programs at Youngstown State University and Ashland University, in partnership with the Wireless Infrastructure Association. Husted is the Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation (OWT). Both programs are part of a larger effort by OWT and BroadbandOhio to grow the workforce needed to expand broadband access and 5G in Ohio, reported the Highland County Press.
Husted said the state legislature and his administration put more than $250 million towards grant funding “to connect unserved or underserved Ohioans to give them access to not only broadband but affordable broadband. There is a grant process that’s running right now where communities around the state are partnering with the private sector or not-for-profit sector to apply for this grant money. November 8 is the deadline.”
The “Strengthening Ohio’s Broadband & 5G Workforce” Strategy, released in September, calls for a Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership to design and distribute curriculum and training programs that will supply the industry with a skilled workforce. Ohio’s colleges and universities will have the opportunity to apply for the sector partnership. As part of their application, they will identify a nonprofit telecom industry partner that will lead the effort.
Grant Due Dates
“The telecom industry partner will provide industry expertise and guidance so the curriculum developed by the institution will be aligned with the industry,” said Husted. This grant application window opens Monday, October 25, and closes Friday, December 17. The grant award will be announced in January.
“Through BroadbandOhio, our administration is aggressively working to expand high-speed internet access around Ohio, but we can’t build the infrastructure without programs to train and produce a workforce,” said Husted on Monday. “This sector partnership will spur the creation of even more training programs in the state, allowing more Ohioans to earn the skills and credentials needed to get a job in this fast-growing industry.”
To ensure that Ohio has a skilled and prepared workforce to fill these broadband and 5G jobs, the strategy also outlines a plan for increasing broadband industry career awareness and creating more training and education programs in the state. The two 5G Readiness Programs will provide students with an understanding of the core fundamentals of 5G. This will allow them to start their telecom careers in a higher position, with a higher wage, according to Husted.
One example shared by Husted: “If an engineering student graduated without this training they could start their telecom career as a drive test data engineer making about $55,000/year, but if same student completes this 5G ready program, the student can skip that job and go straight to an RF engineer position making about $10,000/year more.”
Husted traveled to Youngstown State University (YSU) to promote the 5G Readiness Program, which will launch in the Spring of 2022 at YSU and Ashland University. The program is 80 hours and will cover a variety of topics, including cellular communication theories, 5G technologies, fiber for wireless and WiFi integration, noted the Highland County Press.
“We need enterprising leaders like you who are open to partnering with industry,” said WIA CTO Rikin Thakker. The partnership is about building the 5G network faster and closing the digital divide. Our ‘5G Readiness’ training will address the skill-gaps we are facing in the broadband industry. Through this partnership, Ohio will not only create the high-skilled workforce needed to deploy 5G networks but will also build the broadband infrastructure faster to bridge the digital divide.”
Thakker said the program will promote the fact that there are several points of entry to telecom jobs. This training will meet national requirements for apprenticeships, he noted. Meeting those is important to WIA, the national sponsor of the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
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