Building America’s Infrastructure Workforce: White House Talent Pipeline Challenge

By:

  • Michael Bartlett
  • Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman

As local leaders across the country gear up to compete for federal infrastructure dollars that will enable their communities to build roads, bridges, water systems and broadband networks, the success of our nation’s investments in infrastructure hinge on having a workforce ready to build and maintain that infrastructure.

As we know from NLC’s Hard-to-Fill Infrastructure Jobs report, hiring for infrastructure jobs is a significant challenge – the median infrastructure job takes 20% more time to fill than a non-infrastructure job. The good news is local leaders have an opportunity to make a difference in a short amount of time: 60% of infrastructure jobs require only 6 months of training or less.

To help communities meet the need for skilled workers, the Biden-Harris Administration launched the Talent Pipeline Challenge to fill the new high-quality jobs needed to rebuild our infrastructure and supply chains. This is a nationwide call to action for employers, education and training providers, states, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, and philanthropic organizations to make tangible commitments that support equitable workforce development across three critical infrastructure sectors: Broadband, Construction, and “Electrification” (EV Charging Infrastructure and Battery Manufacturing).

As local leaders prepare to implement the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and create plans to generate new equitable economic opportunities for their residents, there are several key commitments that can be taken to build a strong path forward, including:

  • Use federal funding to invest in workforce development efforts in these critical sectors, including American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds toward job training and other assistance to workers negatively affected by the pandemic;
  • Serve as a regional convener of employers, education & training, and community partners to identify workforce needs and develop a regional workforce training plan;
  • Make a model employer commitment, prioritizing hiring of workers and small businesses in your community for state and local projects and developing diverse hiring goals;
  • Encourage contractors, where permissible under applicable law, to use local/economic hiring preferences to expand the diversity of the talent pool and build local talent;
  • Partner with employers to create or bring to scale skills training programs, coupled with wraparound services like transportation assistance and childcare, that will prepare workers for in-demand jobs; and
  • Provide grant funding for employer-training-provider partnerships and to defer costs of advanced skills training, particularly for underserved workers.

Share Your Commitment!

Sharing the local infrastructure workforce needs, challenges and plans are critical to ensuring that we have a strong federal-local partnership to support this important work. As you build your commitments and workforce pipeline plans, we hope you will share with us so we can amplify your stories with Congress and the Administration.

About the Authors

Michael Bartlett

About the Authors

Michael Bartlett is the Program Manager, Postsecondary and Workforce Success, for Institute for Youth, Education and Families.

Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman

Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman is the Legislative Director, Human Development for NLC, managing labor, health, education and human services policy issues with Congress and the Administration.