By Mitch Coppes, Government Relations Senior Specialist, Goodwill Industries International
Though it is frequently cited as a top priority for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, actually enacting a comprehensive plan to fix the nation’s crumbling infrastructure can sometimes seem like the elusive hope of an “infrastructure week” that has come and gone. Even the $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that was recently approved by the House of Representatives lacks the bipartisan support needed to pass the Senate and become law. But despite the partisan gridlock in Washington, there is still an opportunity for policymakers to live up to their rhetoric and work toward a plan that will address all aspects of America’s infrastructure needs.
Goodwill® believes that comprehensive infrastructure policy includes more than just roads, bridges, airports and waterways. Infrastructure legislation must also provide a significant investment in job-training programs so workers can pursue new career opportunities in infrastructure-related fields. Working in partnership with public- and private-sector employers, Goodwill can help build a diverse talent pipeline for in-demand infrastructure careers that can serve recently dislocated workers and people facing persistent barriers to employment. Local Goodwill organizations offer the occupational skills training, apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, as well as credentialing opportunities that can prepare a job-ready infrastructure workforce, while also providing wrap-around supports like individualize career planning, mentoring and placement services to help ensure workers can find and retain rewarding careers rebuilding the country.
Lawmakers must also invest in our digital infrastructure to expand broadband connectivity to underserved communities and provide affordable internet service and connected devices to families in need. With support for digital literacy programs, local Goodwill organizations can expand training opportunities in basic and applied digital skills so job seekers and career advancers can be competitive in the technology-driven workforce.
Goodwill stands ready to help train and upskill American workers to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, but we need Congress and the Administration to come together on a bipartisan plan that invests in those workers. That would be an infrastructure week worth celebrating.