Husted announces grants to support Ohio's broadband and 5G workforce

Jan. 19—COLUMBUS — Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who serves as Director of the Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation has announced that $12 million in grant funding through two programs will be allocated towards supporting Ohio's Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership as it works to implement the state's broadband and 5G workforce strategy.

"Having a skilled telecommunications workforce is essential to our administration's support of broadband expansion and deploying 5G," Husted said. "I look forward to seeing the work of the Sector Partnership continue and having local regions become leaders in the development of a skilled telecommunications workforce in Ohio."

The "Strengthening Ohio's Broadband & 5G Workforce" Strategy, released in September 2021, calls for an Ohio Broadband & 5G Sector Partnership that will lead the implementation of the goals outlined in the strategy.

The Sector Partnership is housed at The Ohio State University and is led by the Wireless Infrastructure Association as the industry intermediary.

WIA provides insight into the telecommunications skills gap, industry needs and ensures the work of the Sector Partnership remains aligned with the telecommunications industry. The Sector Partnership works to design and distribute curricula and training programs across the state and promotes career awareness to supply the industry with a skilled workforce.

Since the strategy launched in 2021, Ohio has announced 11 new programs across the state. These programs are located at career centers, colleges, and universities, and will prepare participants for a variety of jobs in the telecommunications industry. The Sector Partnership will continue to lead the development and distribution of additional education and training programs across the state.

Husted said at a meeting of the Ohio Broadband & 5G Sector Partnership, on OSU's campus, that grant funding totaling $3 million through the Good Jobs Challenge will support the Sector Partnership's operations for calendar year 2024, including $300,000 for equipment to help support new programs across the state.

Additionally, $9 million in QUEST funding from the U.S. Department of Labor will be budgeted to create regional nodes, or hubs, across JobsOhio's six-region map to support implementation of Ohio's strategy and to provide resources to local communities so they can create the talent pipeline needed for local businesses. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will post a competitive request for proposals on March 1, 2023 to select lead entities in several regions.

"WIA is proud to be one of the key partners with OWT and The Ohio State University supporting the development and implementation of Ohio's broadband and 5G workforce strategy to build a strong talent pipeline across the state," WIA CTO Dr. Rikin Thakker said. "This additional funding will be crucial for advancing regional training programs that will strengthen Ohio's broadband workforce and make it a national leader in broadband and 5G deployment."

The announcement represents continuous progress and success related to broadband expansion that builds upon efforts by Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted to expand and enhance high-speed internet access for businesses, schools, and families throughout Ohio.

The "Strengthening Ohio's Broadband & 5G Workforce" Strategy can be found on the BroadbandOhio website.