Millions of workers—women and men, unemployed and underemployed, younger students and adult learners—are searching for long-term careers, not just short-term jobs, as the economy emerges from the economic lows of the pandemic. Constructing, operating, and overseeing the country’s infrastructure, especially those skillsets focused on climate upgrades, offer a variety of positions that pay higher wages, require shorter term credentials, and need a new generation of talent. A surge in federal resources, including the Infrastructure Investment and Job Act (IIJA), offers a generational opportunity to accelerate momentum around these careers, but leaders across the country need to be ready to harness this funding in ways that expand opportunities to the full diversity of our workforce.
On Wednesday, January 26, Brookings Metro and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) co-hosted an event to examine how regional and federal stakeholders can leverage the opportunity of the IIJA implementation to address needed talent development in the skilled trades and other climate-related occupations. The event aimed to highlight the wide range of careers available and explore how industry leaders need to be involved in ongoing hiring and training efforts. Regional stakeholders, including higher education institutions, workforce development boards, and employers, will all play a critical role in a successful IIJA implementation. Speakers identified major challenges in implementation, opportunities to test new solutions, and other considerations facing these leaders in the months and years to come.
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