NTIA Workforce Development Requirements May Prove Too Restrictive

Some industry leaders are concerned that NTIA BEAD requirements make workforce hiring harder.

NTIA Workforce Development Requirements May Prove Too Restrictive
Photo of workforce training from Hillsborough County, Florida

NEW ORLEANS, May 9, 2023 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s workforce development requirements for its Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program is in tension with it’s goal of improving broadband workforce, said some commenters at a Connect (X) forum on Monday.

Broadband providers are facing looming workforce deficiencies as federal funds come down the pipeline and create more job opportunities. Industry leaders are concerned that the workforce pool is not growing larger but rather that companies are taking employees from other desperately understaffed industries.

In comments, leaders expressed concern that NTIA guidelines prove only to limit workforce options and do nothing to solve the root cause of the workforce shortage.

The NTIA released a workforce planning guide for all BEAD eligible entities in October that outlines the components of a workforce plan-which is required for BEAD applications-and guidance on how to develop the plan.

All awardees and sub-grantees are required to ensure that their employees have safe working conditions, are paid a stable and predictable wage, and engage historically unrepresented minorities among other things.

Concerns remain among potential awardees that these requirements will further restrict their ability to hire capable and qualified workers and will not address the dwindling workforce pool.

In response, an NTIA representative speaking at the Monday event here suggested that requiring providers to hire underrepresented communities will reach into previously un-tapped markets that will increase the labor pool. Furthermore, an NTIA representative said, the NTIA is aware of its responsibility to build a sustainable workforce that benefits the community long-term by ensuring minorities are represented.

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