Public, Private Programs Target the Infrastructure Labor Shortage

    There’s good news and there’s bad news. First, the good: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, aka the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is estimated to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Now, the bad: The construction industry is facing a massive labor shortage, in part due to record-low levels of immigration. According to McKinsey, “In April, the U.S. construction industry had roughly 440,000 job openings, and the U.S. manufacturing industry had more than one million—the highest levels recorded since industry-level jobs data were first collected.” The Infrastructure Talent Pipeline Challenge, launched by the Biden administration in June to narrow the gap, calls on educators; employers; local, state, territorial, and tribal governments; nonprofits; unions; and other stakeholders to support workforce development in broadband, construction, and electrification. At a Nov. 2 event at the White House, the administration revealed some of the major initiatives:

    • Nearly 150 employers, unions, and community-based organizations will create or expand pre-apprenticeships, registered apprenticeships, and other training programs.
    • More than 60 organizations will increase recruitment among workers who are traditionally underrepresented in infrastructure sectors.
    • Nearly 30 organizations will provide supportive services, such as child care and transportation assistance, to help workers overcome barriers to participating in apprenticeships and other training opportunities.
    • More than 50 institutions of higher education—including over 30 community colleges and five community and technical college systems—will advance equitable workforce development for infrastructure jobs.
    • More than $70 million in aligned philanthropic commitments that advances the goals of the Talent Pipeline Challenge will impact tens of thousands of underrepresented workers.

    Notable commitments include:

    • The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is training more than 12,500 members to install EV chargers across the country.
    • AT&T and the Communications Workers of America  are creating a task force to design broadband apprenticeship programs, work with community colleges to expand career options for current employees, and streamline tuition reimbursement for AT&T’s union employees.
    • United Airlines and the Teamsters announced Calibrate, a new apprenticeship program for aviation technicians that will train more than 1,000 workers by 2026.
    • Lumen Technologies will invest more than $80 million annually to hire nearly 1,000 new employees, many of them in union jobs, to support its fiber broadband expansion program and will provide hundreds of in-person, hands-on technical training sessions.
    • Exelon is on track to invest nearly $14 million in 2022 to support more than 75 different workforce development programs, including infrastructure academies across all Exelon locations that prepare workers for jobs in the energy sector, and programs that give young women hands-on experience in STEM fields.

    The administration is releasing 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.