Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is kicking off a summer-long Talent Pipeline Challenge to fill high quality jobs that will help rebuild our infrastructure and supply chains here at home, and continue our transition from a historic economic recovery to steady and stable growth in the years ahead. 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 in three critical infrastructure sectors: Broadband, Construction, and “Electrification” (EV Charging Infrastructure and Battery Manufacturing). These commitments will complement the Federal government’s investment in workforce development and help ensure there are trained workers who are ready to meet the demands of implementing the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as the country transitions from a historic economic recovery to stable and steady growth that works for working people.
Employers. The Talent Pipeline Challenge will encourage employers to partner with and hire skilled workers from at least one training provider in each region in which the employer has operations, such as a registered apprenticeship program or a community college with a diverse student population. As part of this pledge, employers can partner with national or regional intermediaries or training providers to build, scale, or support local training models to recruit, train, or hire workers in their sector. Training partnerships will build on pathways to quality jobs for women, people of color, and underserved workers— including those from rural and Tribal communities and communities with persistent poverty. As part of this goal:
- Employers and training providers are encouraged to include a community-based organization working with women and under-represented groups in the training partnership.
- Employers already partnered with a registered apprenticeship program may consider investing in a quality pre-apprenticeship program that sends its graduates directly into a registered apprenticeship program.
- Employers are encouraged to invest in the resources and supports like tuition assistance, child care, transportation costs, and emergency aid that are often barriers for workers to participate in training.
Training Providers. The Talent Pipeline Challenge will encourage training providers, unions, and other intermediaries, including labor-management skills programs, community colleges, industry associations, philanthropic organizations, and worker centers, to commit to:
- Partner with employers to create or bring to scale skills training programs, coupled with wraparound services like transportation assistance and child care, that will prepare workers for in-demand jobs.
- Help to recruit regional and local employers from the three infrastructure sectors into the Talent Pipeline Challenge—including through regional convenings.
- Work with employer partners to identify, recruit, and support local women and workers of color so they will be employed in infrastructure jobs, including workers from communities with persistent poverty, and rural and Tribal communities.
- Provide grant funding for employer-training-provider partnerships and to defer costs of advanced skills training, particularly for underserved workers.
State and Local Governments. The Talent Pipeline Challenge is calling on state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments to commit to:
- Use federal funding to invest in workforce development efforts in these critical sectors, including:
- American Rescue Plan (ARP) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds toward job training and other assistance to workers negatively affected by the pandemic.
- Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grant funding, where possible and legally permissible, to support workforce development aligned to project labor needs.
- State Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Reserve dollars to fund place-based labor-management partnerships in infrastructure sectors, with apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship opportunities.
- Serve as a regional convenor of employers, 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 their 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.
- Adapt career and technical education plans (i.e., Perkins State Plan) to meet new workforce needs created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Administration Actions to Support Infrastructure Workforce Development
The Administration is undertaking a wide range of actions to support workforce development related to the three industries highlighted in the Talent Pipeline Challenge. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes over $800 million in dedicated funding for job training, as well as additional investments where agencies may encourage the use of the funds for training. Agencies are including, where possible, workforce development as an allowable activity in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs and identifying funds both within the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, like funds from large federal-aid highway investments, and through other funding streams— like ARP’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding — that can be invested in workforce training programs. The Department of Labor (DOL) is working to align federal workforce investments in registered apprenticeships and workforce programs at community colleges to meet infrastructure workforce needs. The Administration will also work to support state and local partnerships seeking to leverage WIOA funding to support workforce training as well as wrap-around services.
Administration Actions to Support Infrastructure Workforce Development
Specific actions include:
- DOL announced an additional $50 million in Strengthening Community Colleges Training grants available to support the development and expansion of high-quality workforce training programs at community colleges. These grants will enable community colleges – individually or collectively – to proactively address equity gaps and meet the skills development needs of local employers and workers, including for infrastructure- related fields.
- The Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Internet for All program’s Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) prioritize high labor standards and protections, as well as workforce development initiatives, to ensure there is a trained, diverse workforce ready to support the programs. In particular, the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) NOFO makes workforce development an eligible use of grant funds, and requires a highly-skilled workforce, which can be fulfilled through use of graduates of registered apprenticeships or other joint labor-management training programs. The NOFO also requires Eligible Entities to develop a plan for ensuring an available and highly skilled workforce in order to receive their funds.
- The Department of Energy (DOE), in consultation with DOL, is providing $5 million to support a national battery workforce sectoral strategy, leading to national training standards and industry-recognized credentials.
- DOE’s Solar Energy Technology Office, with Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, is supporting quality pre-apprenticeships for clean energy construction careers.
- DOL is developing, in collaboration with the Department of Transportation (DOT), DOE, and DOC, guidance that will encourage federal agencies and workforce system stakeholders —like American Job Centers (AJCs) and workforce boards, industry associations, worker centers, unions, and employers—to partner on infrastructure projects, share labor market information and expertise, and to shape workforce development activities to reflect proven strategies and practices that deliver sustainable, equitable outcomes.
- In March, DOT and DOL signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will help facilitate efforts between the two agencies on workforce and job quality. The MOU will leverage the individual and combined resources and expertise of both agencies to ensure the actions necessary to meet common goals related to expanding equitable access to quality jobs for workers and communities in the development and modernization of American infrastructure.
- In March, DOT released the NOFO for the Low and No Emissions Bus program. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides the first-ever dedicated investment in our transit workforce to support the transition to clean technologies like battery electric buses. Five percent of grants under the program – up to $280 million over five years – will be used to fund workforce development training, including registered apprenticeships and other labor-management training programs, to train and upskill transit workers to maintain and operate zero emission vehicles and related charging infrastructure.
- Last week, DOT and DOE released their proposed minimum standards for EV Charging. The standards emphasized strong workforce standards such as the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) to increase the safety and reliability of chargers while creating and supporting good-paying, highly skilled union jobs in communities across the country.
Over the course of the summer, the Administration will collaborate with employers and other critical stakeholders to encourage action on new or existing workforce efforts. Agencies will also highlight best practices to address infrastructure talent pipeline needs.
- Wilmington, Delaware is leveraging the Fiscal Recovery Funds from ARP to expand their Howard High School of Technology workforce development program – funding high school and adult job training in construction, plumbing, HVAC, and more. The city has also committed to using their local workforce for ARP funded neighborhood revitalization projects and is assisting local contractors in obtaining information and participating in ARP-funded projects. Wilmington is connecting graduates from the Howard High School training program to jobs with local employers working on local revitalization projects, and soon Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funded infrastructure projects – helping residents get access to these good jobs and helping employers access the talent they need to successfully complete these government projects.
- Washington D.C. is expanding its D.C. Infrastructure Academy with Fiscal Recovery Funds from ARP to meet the need for skilled infrastructure professionals. The Infrastructure Academy offers high-quality training in infrastructure jobs under one roof and gives D.C. residents the opportunity to gain skills and secure good infrastructure jobs. The program recruits, trains, screens, and supports job placement of residents to fulfill the needs of the D.C. infrastructure industry, matching graduates to infrastructure jobs with leading companies in these high-demand fields.
- Since 2012, the Electrical Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) has trained and certified thousands of electricians throughout the country in the installation of electric vehicle supply equipment. 1,200 qualified electricians from populations traditionally underrepresented in the field have received scholarships to complete the program. Both IBEW and The Superior Group, a national electrical and technology construction and engineering firm headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, are partnering with EVITP to increase the number of certified electricians to meet growing demand.
- IBEW will aim to have a total of 10,000 EVITP certified electricians by August.
- The Superior Group will increase the number of certified electricians in its ranks by 50. Additionally, The Superior Group is committed to attracting more than 100 potential new employees from underserved communities in Central Ohio by the end of 2022.
- Solely owned by a Black woman for 30 years, McKissack & McKissack is a national architecture, engineering, program, and construction management firm. McKissack & McKissack offers tuition assistance, technical lectures, reimbursement for membership fees, professional development programs, licenses, and certifications, and other opportunities that grow employee skills and increase individual earning power. It strives for these initiatives to attract and retain talent— especially from underserved communities.
- Siemens, which will produce one million EV chargers by 2025, is taking a number of steps to build the pipeline of workers to fill the jobs that will be created. Siemens is developing technical training pathways and building talent pipelines with more than 100,000 academic institutions nationwide. They are also investing $37 million annually in employee training programs. And, Siemens recently started an apprenticeship program at their expanded manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
- The Building Pathways Building Trades Pre-Apprenticeship Program, launched in 2011 by the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Metropolitan District, prepares women, people of color, and other underserved Boston metro area residents to enter a union Registered Apprenticeship program – an effective “learn and earn” model providing pathways to the middle class. In addition to creating opportunities to access and prepare for building trades apprenticeships and family-sustaining careers in the construction industry, Building Pathways also educates middle and high school students about career opportunities in the building trades. Building Pathways has prepared and placed hundreds of Boston area residents for careers in union construction, with graduates comprised of over 90 percent people of color and over 55 percent women.
- Wilson Community College in Wilson, North Carolina will pilot the Fiber Broadband Association’s Optical Telecom Installation Certification program. The program was designed with industry professionals to fill an existing fiber technician skills gap, and consists of 144 hours of combined class and lab instruction, provided through Wilson Community College. The program will eventually include a 2,000-hour apprenticeship at Greenlight Community Broadband and other regional broadband partners. The Fiber Broadband Association plans to replicate this model with community colleges and providers across the country.
- The philanthropic community has also stepped up to support these efforts. The Families and Workers Fund has committed $1 million in aligned funding to help advance good jobs and diverse talent pipelines. This funding will focus on building the capacity of community-based nonprofits to scale innovative models for helping workers achieve economic mobility and career advancement and to participate in federal funding opportunities. Additionally, philanthropies are committing $250,000 to train workers in EVITP, including $150,000 from the Hewlett Foundation, which is committed to enhancing broad public benefits of the clean energy transition.