Recently, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Rob Portman (R-OH), both co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, introduced the Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills (BUILDS) Act to ensure that workers are prepared with the skills needed for jobs—in fields such as construction, transportation and energy—that would be created by a major investment in infrastructure.
Kaine and Portman, along with many of their colleagues on both sides of the aisle, have expressed support for a significant infrastructure plan to fix the country’s crumbling roads and bridges.
A recent study by the Center of Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University estimated that a $1 trillion infrastructure investment would create 11 million new jobs. Of these jobs, nearly half would require skilled job training beyond a high school level. The BUILDS Act promotes partnerships made up of local businesses and industry organizations, workforce boards, labor representatives and education and training providers to support workforce training programs in infrastructure-related jobs.
“Our country desperately needs improvements to critical infrastructure like our roads and bridges, and to do that work we must have a trained workforce that’s ready to fill these good-paying jobs,” Kaine said. “Virginia businesses in the transportation, construction, energy and IT industries continue to tell me they have trouble finding job applicants with the necessary skills, and this bill will help workers get the job training they need to be hired. The BUILDS Act would be a smart bipartisan investment in our future.”
“If we are going to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, we are going to need a skilled workforce,” Portman said. “The BUILDS Act will improve worker training and provide more resources for job training programs targeted toward in-demand infrastructure-related jobs, which will ensure that we can fill jobs quickly and help those on the economic sidelines get the skills they need to succeed.”
“Our nation’s infrastructure is in need of an upgrade, and we need skilled workers to build – and rebuild – our roads, bridges and energy systems. The BUILDS Act would support partnerships between businesses and other stakeholders to train the workers businesses need, while ensuring that a diverse range of U.S. workers are able to take advantage of new job opportunities in their communities. We applaud Senators Kaine and Portman for their leadership, and we look forward to making the BUILDS Act a reality,” Kermit Kaleba, Federal Policy Director, National Skills Coalition said.
“As a business driven, community oriented and economic development focused Workforce Development Board in Virginia, we applaud Senators Kaine and Portman on this much need initiative to rebuild America. We are acutely aware of the diverse and sensitive infrastructure needs within our communities and our country. In an area that is rich with military installations and other key industry clusters, the infrastructure build out is a major concern for us. From a Workforce Development Board perspective, we also support this BUILDS Act as it directly addresses on our national skills gap situation with education and training beyond high school. The BUILDS Act also will build numerous industries that also have career paths and career ladders for Americans for this decade and beyond,” Matthew James, President & CEO, Peninsula Council For Workforce Development in Virginia said.
“The BUILDS Act is another innovative effort that enhances the current Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to meet the employment needs of industry and assist with better preparing workers with the skills needed for success. A hallmark of the BUILDS Act is the focus on work-based learning strategies, which is an effective tool for the workforce development system and encourages a sector based approach to growing the targeted infrastructure cluster.” Shawn Avery, President and CEO, Opportunity Inc. of Hampton Roads said.
Specifically, the BUILDS Act would leverage sector partnerships to:
· Incentivize businesses and industry to work with the greater community to create on-the-job training programs to fill the jobs necessary to expand the country’s infrastructure system
· Connect businesses and education providers to develop classroom curriculum to complement on-the-job learning
· Train managers and front-line workers to serve as mentors to people in the work-based learning programs
· Offer resources and career awareness programming to recruit and retain individuals for workforce training programs
· Provide support services to ensure workers are successful from pre-employment to placement in a full-time position
The BUILDS Act is supported by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Advance CTE: State Leaders Connecting Learning to Work, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the National Skills Coalition (NSC) and Jobs for the Future.
-Submitted by Sarah Peck