Langevin, Mitchell, Bonamici, and Thompson Push for Infrastructure Workforce Development

May 20, 2019 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Transportation

WASHINGTON – Last week during Infrastructure Week, Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) introduced bipartisan H.R. 2831, the Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills (BUILDS) Act, which encourages partnerships to prepare the American workforce to modernize and expand the nation’s aging infrastructure systems.

The BUILDS Act promotes industry partnerships made up of local businesses and industry organizations, workforce boards, and education and training providers to support workforce training programs in targeted infrastructure industries.

Any investment to improve our transportation, energy, construction, and infrastructure systems could create millions of new jobs, requiring millions of skilled workers to fill them. A study by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University estimated that a $1 trillion infrastructure investment would create 11 million new jobs. Nearly half of these would require more than a high school diploma, but not a four-year degree. Infrastructure industries are already struggling to meet workforce demands.

“As Congress considers legislation to address America’s crumbling infrastructure, I have been pushing for greater investment in workforce development programs, investments like those found in the BUILDS Act,” said Congressman Langevin, who, along with Congressman Thompson, led a letter signed by 51 Members of Congress requesting that any infrastructure package include robust support for workforce education and training. “By facilitating industry partnerships around career and technical education programs, this bill will help develop the skilled workforce needed to rebuild, modernize and maintain our nation’s aging infrastructure. I’m pleased to join Representatives Mitchell, Bonamici, and Thompson in introducing this critical, bipartisan legislation.”

“The American workforce must be ready to meet our nation’s expanding infrastructure needs,” said Congressman Mitchell. “Upgrading our country’s aging infrastructure is a national priority, and we need to prepare Americans to fill the millions of jobs that will be created by a major rebuilding of our infrastructure. The BUILDS Act helps achieve this goal through partnerships that encourage industry growth, and improve worker training, placement, and retention. With a background in workforce development, I’ve seen how these programs can change someone’s life. It’s time to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, close the skills gap, and get Americans back to work.”

“As we address our nation’s deteriorating infrastructure and transition to a clean energy economy, we must make meaningful investments in our workforce,” said Congresswoman Bonamici. “The BUILDS Act will help increase diversity in the transportation, infrastructure, and energy sectors by providing individuals who have historically faced barriers to employment with the support services and training to find and succeed in better-paying jobs. This bill is one piece of the greater need to invest in apprenticeships and paid, on-the-job training programs. The BUILDS Act will get more people back to work and meet the demands of our local employers.” 

“Any successful infrastructure package will require investments into a well-trained and educated workforce. We need skilled workers who can carry out the mission from design, through construction and completion, and beyond,” Congressman Thompson said. “When Congress passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, we made it clear that career and technical education programs, including apprenticeships, are proven workforce development strategies. We must ensure that we provide resources to individuals who stand ready and able to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. The BUILDS Act will help achieve this and put Americans back to work.”

“Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure will require millions of new skilled workers. The BUILDS Act ensures that workers, businesses, and communities have the tools they need to create a diverse workforce pipeline with access to and success in infrastructure jobs today and into the future,” said Katie Spiker, Senior Federal Policy Analyst for the National Skills Coalition.

The BUILDS Act will:

  • Provide grants to industry or sector partnerships that encourage industry growth and competitiveness and collaborate to improve worker training, retention, and advancement in targeted infrastructure and transportation industry clusters
  • Connect businesses and education providers to develop classroom curriculum to complement on-the-job learning
  • Prepare 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 like skills training, adult basic education, work attire and tools, child care, transportation, and mentoring to to ensure workers are successful from pre-employment to placement in a full-time position

Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

The bill has been endorsed by: National Skills Coalition, Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., National League of Cities, Jobs for the Future, National Taskforce on Tradeswomen’s Issues, Advance CTE, ACTE, and Jackson Area Manufacturing Association.

To read the BUILDS Act, click here.