Grant Programs to Support Ohio’s Broadband & 5G Workforce

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio’s Broadband & 5G Sector Partnership is getting a boost.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who serves as director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, announced last week that $12 million in grant funding through two programs will be allocated toward supporting the 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. The 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 Friday 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 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,” said WIA CTO Rikin Thakker. “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.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.