US Workforce Development Progresses


United States President Joe Biden recently recognized more than 350 organizations in the nation’s 50 states for their commitments as part of the Infrastructure Talent Pipeline Challenge.

Initially launched in June by the Biden-Harris Administration, the nationwide initiative calls on employers, unions, education and training providers, states, local governments, Tribes, territories, philanthropic organizations, and other stakeholders to help support equitable workforce development.

The Challenge is focused on three sectors: broadband, construction and electrification.

National Workforce Issues

All over North America, several reports have indicated that the construction industry is continuing to undergo challenges related to supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and recruitment, among others.

While projects are still being scheduled out, some builders have been forced to defer or cancel work as they continue to address these issues.

To help the industry, over the summer The White House announced that over $40 billion in American Rescue Plan funds had been committed to strengthening and expanding the United States’ workforce.

According to the announcement, the investments in the workforce—along with the American Rescue Plan’s direct payroll support that has saved or restored jobs across a broad set of industries—have contributed to a record 9 million jobs added since President Biden took office.

During a half-day White House Summit on the American Rescue Plan and the Workforce, Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh shared remarks alongside North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

Overall, the summit was noted to focus on thee major areas of the American Rescue Plan investment:

  • Building a Diverse and Skilled Infrastructure Workforce;
  • Strengthening Our Care and Public Health Workforce; and
  • Expanding Access to the Workforce for Underserved Populations.

Through these initiatives, it was reported that President Biden and Vice President Harris launched the Administration’s Infrastructure Talent Pipeline Challenge.

Around the same time the initial launch took place, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced that $500 million in government funding was awarded to 32 industry-led workforce training partnerships across the nation.

The grant awards are part of the Good Jobs Challenge, an effort through President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan to enable communities across the country to invest in innovative approaches to workforce development and secure job opportunities for more than 50,000 Americans.

The Good Jobs Challenge is administered by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration.

By the end of August, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced the launch of a new, innovative talent development initiative designed to help place nearly 2,300 low-income New Yorkers in careers in two high-growth sectors of the city’s economy.

Slated to take place over the next three years, the New York City Pathways to Industrial and Construction Careers (PINCC) will be funded by an $18.6 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration in response to New York City’s winning proposal to the Good Jobs Challenge created under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

According to a press release, the latest initiative in New York City helps to set the stage for the Adams administration’s newly announced citywide talent development strategy, set forth in Executive Order 22.

The executive order reportedly aligns with nearly two dozen city agencies and offices that administer workforce training and job placement programs, in addition to education institutions. The order will also create a Future of Workers Task Force to consider and inform every aspect of the city’s strategy for empowering New Yorkers to secure and succeed in family-sustaining careers.

The task force will be staffed by the Mayor’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development—in partnership with CUNY and the DOE—employers and other key stakeholders.

Specifically, PINCC will focus on all three phases of the employment cycle: recruitment and training, job placement, retention and advancement.

The program projects to train nearly 2,300 New Yorkers and help place them in high-wage and/or unionized jobs with benefits in roles like diesel mechanic, general utility worker, tradesperson or construction project manager.

What’s Happening Now

Thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law—along with the CHIPS and Science Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and American Rescue Plan—millions of union jobs are being created, and the Challenge is ensuring that workers across the country are being properly trained for these jobs.

“The private, public, and non-profit sector commitments complement the Administration’s investments in workforce development and help ensure a diverse set of workers Tave a fair shot at the good jobs created,” read The White House release.

“Commitments made through the Challenge will expand equitable pathways into good jobs, boost opportunities for union jobs, and meet critical employer skill needs.”

Through them, nearly 150 employers, unions, and community-based organizations will create or expand pre-apprenticeships, registered apprenticeships and other high-quality training programs. In addition, more than 60 organizations will increase recruitment among workers who are traditionally underrepresented in infrastructure sectors, while nearly 30 organizations have pledged to provide supportive services, such as childcare and transportation.

Advancements in equitable workforce development will also be carried out by over 50 institutions of higher education focused on infrastructure jobs. And lastly, more than $70 million in aligned philanthropic commitments will be used to advance the goals of the Talent Pipeline Challenge, which is expected to impact tens of thousands of underrepresented workers.

At an event earlier this month, tradespeople from unions participating in the Challenge demonstrated how they train workers in skills critical to implementing the bipartisan infrastructure law, including:

  • Communications Workers of America (CWA) demonstrated fiber splicing, an essential task that joins fiber cables together and is a key part of expanding access to affordable broadband across the country;
  • International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) demonstrated how to create a brick-and-mortar solid structure vital to foundations, dams, walls, and the construction of buildings;
  • United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) demonstrated how their members train welders using a virtual reality (VR) simulator;
  • International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) used a VR simulator to demonstrate training in professional painting techniques;
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) demonstrated how they train members in the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) to install and maintain EV chargers and showcase an electronic switchboard station used to train apprentice electricians;
  • Teamsters aviation mechanics demonstrated how they train members to service, repair, and overhaul aircraft components and systems; and
  • United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry (UA)  showcased a centralized gas distribution system found in hospitals and care facilities, where gasses are delivered through complex piping systems.

Intermediary organizations, including Jobs for the Future and National Skills Coalition, were also reported to have assisted in catalyzing commitments for the Challenge, among others.

The White House went on to note that the commitments will also complement new and ongoing federal investments and administrative actions, including:

  • The Biden-Harris Administration will release a new guide, Advancing Equitable Workforce Development for Infrastructure Jobs, to help infrastructure and workforce development stakeholders leverage funding provided in the bipartisan infrastructure law and other federal programs for equitable workforce development for infrastructure jobs.
  • The Department of Labor (DOL) will announce an $80 million competition to support training in eligible infrastructure occupations. DOL will also uplift a new Training and Employment Notice to help infrastructure project leads and other stakeholders implement BIL with strong workforce commitments and proven strategies that produce high-quality education, training, and employment opportunities for all workers.
  • The Department of Transportation (DOT) will release a checklist on quality jobs and workforce planning for the $125 billion in competitive grants it will award through BIL, to help applicants develop plans for workforce training and equity in their applications.
  • The Department of Commerce (DOC) released its Internet for All Workforce Planning Guide, which helps states and territories develop a workforce plan as required by the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. The guide includes strategies to support a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive telecommunications workforce.
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) began implementing its Battery Workforce Initiative, a collaborative effort between DOE, DOL, industry participants, and labor unions to identify shared workforce needs and develop national training standards and curricular materials. This initiative will support development of a skilled, diverse, and qualified workforce for the rapidly expanding U.S. battery manufacturing industry.

For more information about the recently celebrated commitments, click here.


Tagged categories: Commercial contractors; Contractors; Economy; Education; Funding; General contractors; Good Technical Practice; Government; Industrial Contractors; Jobs; NA; North America; Painting Contractors; President Biden; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Residential contractors; Subcontractors; Unions; Worker training; Workers

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