U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has announced expanded construction hiring and workforce development pilot programs to be managed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT's) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
“As we invest in world-class infrastructure for Americans, we want to make sure that our investments create jobs for people in the communities where the projects are located,” Buttigieg said. “We’re proud to launch the Department’s local hiring initiative, with an additional focus on workforce development so that good jobs can become meaningful careers.”
Both FHWA’s and FTA’s programs will give contracting agencies expanded flexibility to use hiring preferences to enhance workforce development opportunities for those in economically or socially disadvantaged communities. A similar USDOT pilot program was in effect from 2015 to 2017.
FHWA’s Enhancing Workforce Development Opportunities Contracting Initiative will help to rebuild the skilled workforce needed to improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure. The four-year pilot program will enable state transportation agencies and contractors to better recruit qualified construction workers, which can be challenging in many parts of the country.
Meanwhile, FTA’s construction hiring and workforce development initiative, the Equitable Economic Recovery and Workforce Development Through Construction Hiring Pilot Program, is a four-year pilot program that will allow transit agencies to use geographic, economic, or other hiring preferences on FTA-funded construction projects.
Both FHWA’s and FTA’s local hire initiatives will improve participation in existing training and apprenticeship programs, such as FHWA’s On-the-Job Training (OJT) programs and FTA’s innovative public transportation Workforce Development Program. The organization selected to run the center will help transit agencies implement best practices to hire new employees to support advanced technology initiatives, including electric buses and high speed rail.
The local-hire initiative pilot programs will appear in the Federal Register later this week and are open to recipients and sub-recipients of FHWA and FTA federal funds. FHWA’s pilot program is being administered under Sec. 199B of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, and its Special Experimental Project No. 14 (SEP-14) program to promote innovative contracting approaches.