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Talent Pipeline Challenge

June 20, 2022

Employer Investments Needed for BEAD Equitable Workforce Development

The Biden-Harris Administration announced a summer-long Talent Pipeline Challenge to fill high quality jobs to help rebuild US infrastructure and supply chains. The administration is making a nationwide call to action for employers, education and training providers, states, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, and philanthropic organizations to make tangible commitments that support equitable workforce development in three critical infrastructure sectors:

  • Broadband
  • Construction
  • Electrification (EV Charging Infrastructure and Battery Manufacturing)

The Talent Pipeline Challenge will encourage employers to partner with and hire skilled workers from at least one training provider in each region in which the employer has operations, such as a registered apprenticeship program or a community college with a diverse student population. As part of this pledge, employers can partner with national or regional intermediaries or training providers to build, scale, or support local training models to recruit, train, or hire workers in their sector. Training partnerships will build on pathways to quality jobs for women, people of color, and underserved workers–including those from rural and Tribal communities and communities with persistent poverty. As part of this goal:

  • Employers and training providers are encouraged to include a community-based organization working with women and under-represented groups in the training partnership.
  • Employers already partnered with a registered apprenticeship program may consider investing in a quality pre-apprenticeship program that sends its graduates directly into a registered apprenticeship program.
  • Employers are encouraged to invest in the resources and supports like tuition assistance, childcare, transportation costs, and emergency aid that are often barriers for workers to participate in training.

The Talent Pipeline Challenge will encourage training providers, unions, and other intermediaries, including labor-management skills programs, community colleges, industry associations, philanthropic organizations, and worker centers, to commit to:

Partner with employers to create or bring to scale skills training programs, coupled with wraparound services like transportation assistance and childcare, that will prepare workers for in-demand jobs.

  • Help to recruit regional and local employers from the three infrastructure sectors into the Talent Pipeline Challenge–including through regional convenings.
  • Work with employer partners to identify, recruit, and support local women and workers of color so they will be employed in infrastructure jobs, including workers from communities with persistent poverty, and rural and Tribal communities.
  • Provide grant funding for employer-training-provider partnerships and to defer costs of advanced skills training, particularly for underserved workers.

Administration Support

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes over $800 million in dedicated funding for job training, as well as additional investments where agencies may encourage the use of the funds for training. Agencies are including, where possible, workforce development as an allowable activity in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs and identifying funds both within the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, like funds from large federal-aid highway investments, and through other funding streams–like ARP’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding–that can be invested in workforce training programs.

The Department of Labor (DOL) is working to align federal workforce investments in registered apprenticeships and workforce programs at community colleges to meet infrastructure workforce needs. The Administration will also work to support state and local partnerships seeking to leverage WIOA funding to support workforce training as well as wrap-around services. 

Specific actions include:

  • DOL announced an additional $50 million in Strengthening Community Colleges Training grants available to support the development and expansion of high-quality workforce training programs at community colleges. These grants will enable community colleges–individually or collectively–to proactively address equity gaps and meet the skills development needs of local employers and workers, including for infrastructure-related fields.
  • The Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Internet for All program’s Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) prioritize high labor standards and protections, as well as workforce development initiatives, to ensure there is a trained, diverse workforce ready to support the programs.

    In particular, the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) NOFO makes workforce development an eligible use of grant funds, and requires a highly skilled workforce, which can be fulfilled through use of graduates of registered apprenticeships or other joint labor-management training programs. The NOFO also requires Eligible Entities to develop a plan for ensuring an available and highly skilled workforce in order to receive their funds.

For more details, read the entire fact sheet: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/06/17/fact-sheet-the-biden-harris-administration-launches-the-talent-pipeline-challenge-supporting-employer-investments-in-equitable-workforce-development-for-infrastructure-jobs/

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ISE Staff