- Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser has announced the opening of the District of Columbia Infrastructure Academy (DCIA), which will train workers for jobs in the city's infrastructure industry, according to the an Associated Press article in U.S. News & World Report. The academy is a partnership between the city, utility companies, unions, universities and private companies.
- DCIA, according to the District's Department of Employment Services, will recruit and train D.C. residents in fields such as commercial driver's licenses, energy, utilities, auto mechanics, safety and solar panel installation. The academy will also hold job fairs, provide referrals and help with interview skills.
- Job openings in D.C.'s infrastructure sector last year totaled 2,231, but only 1,246 of those positions were filled. District officials said these jobs, which average $48.75 an hour, are a "pathway to the middle class."
The construction industry is short on skilled labor, so many companies and cities have started workforce development initiatives instead of waiting for the traditional pipeline to deliver much-needed workers. This is true not only for the infrastructure sector but for all kinds of commercial and residential projects.
In November, the Associated Press reported that construction industry groups in Minnesota formed Project Build Minnesota, an organization with the sole purpose of recruiting skilled workers. At the time of the launch, the group's website listed training and employment resources, but Project Build officials said they were planning an outreach program aimed at students, schools and parents to encourage young people to consider a career in construction. The group also planned on recruiting from diverse communities.
The private sector has joined the effort to bring more skilled workers into the construction industry. The Home Depot Foundation (HDF), the charitable arm of The Home Depot, announced last week that it is donating $50 million toward construction industry job training during the next 10 years through a partnership with the nonprofit Home Building Institute (HBI). With the money, the foundation and institute expect to train 20,000 workers in a variety of trades, including carpentry, framing, electrical and plumbing.
Lowe's also launched a training initiative, this one to give its employees a chance to learn a construction trade. Lowe's will give $2,500 to each participant, and the company's contractor network will provide pre-apprenticeships and other job opportunities.The program is only available to those working in select stores, but the retailer expects to roll it out to all U.S. locations by the end of the year.
As part of his $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, President Donald Trump outlined a plan for workforce development through the expansion of Pell Grant eligibility, a reworking of career and technical education, a revamp of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education program and other job creation initiatives — but funding is still up in the air.