February 13, 2023 - Written By Stefaan Verhulst | Blog Archive
Nicol Turner Lee and Brady Tavernier from the Brookings Institution recently shared findings from an online workshop as part of the Markle Tech Policy Research Consortium. The workshop focused on exploring the jobs and skills needed in the new digital economy fueled by government investments in broadband, and how to engage low-skilled workers in this economy. The workshop was held in September 2022 and included input from academics, policymakers, and workforce development experts.
The findings were captured in a subsequent blog “Reimagining the Technology Workforce in Broadband Infrastructure,” which highlights the significance of having a diverse and prepared workforce in building and maintaining broadband infrastructure. With the growing demand for high-speed internet, it is imperative to not only invest in the education and training of workers, but also ensure the most accurate skill sets needed for effective participation in a rapidly growing sector. The authors also emphasize the need for gathering data on required proficiencies to incentivize participation among workers without college degrees or highly technical experiences.
Further, the new research emphasizes the need for a diverse and inclusive workforce and highlights the importance of partnerships between the government, industry, and education sectors that create clear career pathways for workers. With closing the digital divide at the core of the recent federal investments in broadband infrastructure and adoption, finding ways to engage workers who have not been traditionally involved in such work can facilitate improved wages, as well as more collective bargaining opportunities in their employment. While bridging the skills gap remains an important priority among workforce development experts, the creation of new jobs without technical and educational barriers can be highly beneficial to workers who have been traditionally displaced from opportunities in emerging tech sectors.
Investments in continuous learning and development for workers in the technology sector are also critical. As technology evolves and changes rapidly, it is crucial for workers to continuously update their skills and knowledge to remain relevant in the industry. This not only benefits the workers but also helps to ensure that the broadband infrastructure is up-to-date and efficient.
In conclusion, the blog highlights the critical role that a skilled technology workforce plays in building and maintaining broadband infrastructure. It argues that gathering data on industry needs and competencies, investing in the education and training of workers, creating inclusive and diverse partnerships, and promoting continuous learning and development are essential steps toward creating a resilient and reliable broadband network.