Last week I attended a meeting of Latino business leaders, convened by the White House, to discuss how the broadband industry can grow the jobs of the future in the Latino community.
We often hear about an emerging skills gap in America and the urgent need for more graduates in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Business leaders recognize that to help address this challenge, particularly in the technology sector, broadband Internet access is a priority. Another key to growing a technology-skilled workforce is tackling the broadband adoption gap in the Latino community. NTIA’s research shows that only 57 percent of Hispanic households had broadband service in 2010, which significantly lags behind the national rate. Even when adjusting for socioeconomic factors, like income and education, Hispanic households still trail White households in broadband adoption by 11 percentage points.
To encourage the next generation of computer programmers and information technology workers – and to help today’s workers better compete – broadband access at home and in schools is a vital first step. To help tackle this issue, NTIA is vigorously overseeing approximately 230 broadband projects nationwide. These projects, funded by the Recovery Act, are deploying new and upgraded broadband networks, extending broadband access to schools and other community anchor institutions, upgrading and expanding public computer centers, and providing free computer and job training for residents.