Momentum for a bipartisan infrastructure deal is building, and that means the bold, once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s transportation systems could be close at hand. But we can’t forget that with these investments come thousands of jobs that will need skilled workers to fill them. Over the past several weeks, AEM staff have participated and moderated panels on the topic of the infrastructure workforce.
AEM Federal Government Relations Manager Megan Evans recently took part in an industry panel on the intersection of infrastructure investment and workforce development. Evans shared some of the pitfalls to watch out for, like ensuring that funds for workforce development are not diverted from the Highway Trust Fund. She also highlighted some of the important aspects that a bill should have, such as wrap around services (transportation, childcare, mentoring, career counseling, etc.) for those receiving training.
Just a few days later, AEM and the Brookings Institution co-hosted a webinar for congressional staff on the workforce development sections of the recent Brookings report, Rebuild with Purpose: An Affirmative Vision for 21st Century American Infrastructure, which was made possible with the financial support of AEM. AEM Senior Director of Government Relations Kate Fox Wood was joined by Evans and Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program Senior Research Associate Joseph Kane. Fox Wood expertly drove the discussion, Evans set out a landscape of what legislation was active within Congress that could help fill the skills gap for the infrastructure workforce, and Kane outlined much of the data supporting the need to invest in workforce development programs. At both panels, Evans emphasized the need to define the infrastructure workforce broadly so that it includes equipment manufacturers and technicians.
As infrastructure talks progress, AEM staff will continue to lead the conversation surrounding workforce development proposals that will allow our nation to build both our skilled workforce and our nation’s infrastructure assets.
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