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Kaine, Portman Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Support Training For Skilled Infrastructure Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Rob Portman (R-OH), both co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, reintroduced the Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills (BUILDS) Act to ensure that workers are prepared with the skills needed for infrastructure jobs in fields like construction, transportation, and energy.

“It’s critical that we rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, but in order to do that, we need a skilled workforce,” Kaine said. “This bill will help workers get the training they need to succeed and take on the good-paying jobs in critical infrastructure industries like transportation and IT.”

“If we are going to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, we are going to need a skilled workforce,” Portman said. “The BUILDS Act will improve worker training and provide more resources for job training programs targeted toward in-demand infrastructure-related jobs, which will ensure that we can fill jobs quickly and help those on the economic sidelines get the skills they need to succeed.”

A study by the Center of Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University estimated that a $1 trillion infrastructure investment would create 11 million new jobs. Of these jobs, nearly half would require skilled job training beyond a high school level. The BUILDS Act promotes sector partnerships made up of local businesses and industry organizations, workforce boards, labor representatives, and education and training providers to support workforce training programs in infrastructure-related jobs.

Specifically the BUILDS Act would authorize a grant program that would leverage sector partnerships to:

  • Incentivize businesses and industry to work with the greater community to create on-the-job training programs to fill the jobs necessary to expand the country’s infrastructure system
  • Connect businesses and education providers to develop classroom curriculum to complement on-the-job learning
  • Train managers and front-line workers to serve as mentors to people in work-based learning programs
  • Offer resources and career awareness programming to recruit and retain individuals for workforce training programs
  • Provide support services to ensure workers are successful from pre-employment to placement in a full-time position

The BUILDS Act is supported by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Advance CTE: State Leaders Connecting Learning to Work, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the National Skills Coalition (NSC), Jobs for the Future, the National Taskforce on Tradeswomen’s Issues, and the National League of Cities.

Kaine and Portman introduced an earlier version of this legislation in the previous Congress.

You can view the bill text here.