The current, crumbling state of American infrastructure creates an opportunity for improvement across the country, and not just for our roads and bridges. The opportunity to boost America’s infrastructure also presents a chance to invigorate a depleted workforce through education and skills training. As Tamar Jacoby writes for the Los Angeles Times, “this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
With bipartisan support for significant infrastructure reform, there has been new push for a national plan from all levels of government. A countrywide focus on improving our infrastructure will get Americans to work rebuilding the country while stimulating local economies. Yet it may come to pass that not all jobs created can be filled by the current workforce.
Despite the unemployment rate being at its lowest point in decades, around 6 million jobs remain unfilled – due to a lack of sufficiently skilled workers. The cause of this is the skills-gap is present in today’s workforce which has hurt American workers and hindered the economy’s ability to grow in recent years. Educated workers see their wages rise while those who lack skills in demand drop out of the workforce or see their jobs become obsolete.
Combining job training with a national infrastructure project would help both in the short-term, with workers and funding available to repair roads and bridges, as well as in the long-term, by creating a new public-private approach to construction and education. Pairing infrastructure and job training resolves two issues with one solution, and would create a population of American workers who have been overlooked for far too long.