State of Ohio announces new funding for broadband workforce development

Posted: January 19, 2023

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Jan. 13 at The Ohio State University that $12 million in grant funding through two programs will be allocated to support Ohio’s Broadband & 5G Sector Partnership as it works to implement the state’s broadband and 5G workforce strategy.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and others at Ohio Broadband meeting

During a meeting of the Ohio Broadband & 5G Sector Partnership held on the Columbus campus, Husted said grant funding totaling $3 million through the Good Jobs Challenge will support the Sector Partnership’s operations in 2024, including $300,000 for equipment to help support new programs across the state.

“The new funding will enable the Sector Partnership, which is housed at The Ohio State University, to build on the initial programmatic successes,” said Anish Arora, chair of Ohio State’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and the initiative’s principal investigator. “We will not only accelerate and scale ongoing programs but will also incorporate new elements in our instructional strategy and work with local partners in effecting the regional rollout.”

Additionally, $9 million in 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 to create a talent pipeline needed for local businesses. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will seek organizations to lead these programs in several regions.

“Having a skilled telecommunications workforce is essential to our administration’s support of broadband expansion and deploying 5G,” said Husted, who serves as director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation (OWT). “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.”

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 are designed to prepare participants for a variety of jobs in the telecommunications industry. The Sector Partnership will lead the development and distribution of additional education and training programs around the state.

In January 2022, Husted announced Ohio State was awarded $3 million to design curriculum for the partnership. Arora is leading that project with Eylem Ekici, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Rajiv Ramnath, professor of practice in computer science and engineering.

The Sector Partnership’s membership includes the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA), a trade association for companies that build facilities that transmit wireless communication signals.

“WIA is proud to be one of the key partners with the 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 Rikin Thakker, WIA’s chief technology officer. “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 “Strengthening Ohio’s Broadband & 5G Workforce” Strategy can be found on the BroadbandOhio website.

by Chris Bournea, Ohio State News

Category: College