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Millions of Californians Lack the High-Speed Internet Capacity Needed to Get a Job

Posted on 10/04/2022

Building digital infrastructure paves the way for jobs for those who need them

This article, written by Bobbi Murray, reports on the complicated process of applying for a job with an unreliable internet WIFI. For prospective employees who do not own a laptop, the application process hinders the ability to apply. For example, if a business requires uploading a resume or a CV, “the process of applying by phone can range from exasperating to impossible, especially if your internet connection is sketchy." Most jobs require a resume, and if the person does not have a laptop, desktop computer or WIFI, then that job is out of reach financially...just to apply. Without a job, the cost of purchasing, maintaining, and adding in software is completely inaccessible.

While local libraries house free computer equipment, often the wi-fi can be slow. “Roughly 2.3 million Californians may have some kind of digital access but lack the high-speed capacity needed to navigate the employment landscape.” Sarai Preciado knows how that works, “You use their equipment, but sometimes the Wi-Fi is slow. If the computer freezes or ends up starting again, all the work you just put in goes away.”  Along with speedy internet, people need basic computer and digital skills to “negotiate the internet.” The NDIA (National Digital Inclusion Alliance) works to bridge this digital divide by lending support to a network of “digital navigators” who help neighbors “figure out low-cost home broadband solutions and directs them to digital literacy programs to improve their skills.”

Most people who use computers daily pick up familiarity while those that do not have access cannot. “A report by the National Skills Coalition found that 13% of people of employment age have no digital capability and 18% have very limited skills. Another 35% have achieved a baseline level of proficiency, while 33% have advanced skills.” The NDIA works to bridge this digital divide and began a grassroots campaign to support digital inclusion across the United States.

Recently the 2021 federal infrastructure bill sets forth a “$65 billion investment into broadband, including $42.5 billion allotted to the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program” where state funds are distributed to local communities and municipalities. The aim is to enable states to build out their digital systems and provide affordable connectivity for households making less than $26,500 for a family of four.” The distribution of funds totally depends upon the leanings of the state government.

While many for profit companies argue that federal money will put some companies out of business, the truth is that “the reason that there is no infrastructure [on tribal lands and in rural areas] is because the companies do not get a return on investment. Therefore, the federal and state governments have to step in.

Article: Millions of Californians Lack the High-Speed Internet Capacity Needed to Get a Job

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.