WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, yesterday chaired a hearing to consider nationwide efforts to recruit, hire, and train a skilled labor force to build out the nation’s 5G wireless network. Wicker invited Jimmy Miller, President and CEO of Gulfport-based MillerCo, Inc., to testify about the industry’s hiring challenges.
“The United States faces a 5G labor shortage… This committee is keenly interested in learning what additional measures federal, state, and local governments can take to train workers and ensure they have the specialized skills to meet 5G deployment demand,” Wicker said.
With exponentially faster connections, higher speeds, and significantly larger data capacities, 5G networks are expected to transform almost every industry and economic sector. As chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Wicker has been leading Senate efforts to advance deployment of 5G networks and expand the technology workforce.
Miller, who serves as the chairman of the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE), leads a company that specializes in providing installation, maintenance, and other support services to the wireless industry.
“The most significant challenge is attracting, recruiting, and training a qualified workforce,” Miller said. “As president of MillerCo, I am regularly confronted with these workforce challenges, which are afflicting many in our industry and increasing the pressure on small contractor companies like mine.”
Miller pointed to several key problems facing his industry, including a lack of public awareness of career opportunities, surging competition for new employees in a tight labor market, a lack of public investment in the workforce, and regulatory hurdles that make installations more costly. Addressing these challenges will be critical to ensuring the U.S. can deploy 5G networks quickly.
Other witnesses at the hearing included:
- The Honorable Brandan Carr, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
- Ms. Shirley Bloomfield, Chief Executive Officer, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association
- Mr. Harold Feld, Senior Vice President, Public Knowledge
- Ms. Lisa Youngers, President and Chief Executive Officer, Fiber Broadband Association