Photos courtesy of Chelle Travis.
SkillsUSA Executive Director Chelle Travis — along with other nonprofit leaders and local and state government officials — was invited to the White House on Nov. 2 to celebrate a national call for partnerships designed to build a more inclusive infrastructure workforce.
The group joined President Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House to honor the commitments made by more than 350 organizations since the Infrastructure Talent Pipeline Challenge launched last June. The nationwide call to action inspired employers, unions, education and training providers, states, local governments, Tribes, territories, philanthropic organizations and other stakeholders to make tangible commitments that support equitable workforce development focused on three critical sectors: broadband, construction, and electrification (including the supply chains that support these sectors). During the event, President Biden highlighted the importance of partnerships between community colleges, training providers, businesses, labor, workforce boards and other stakeholders.
According to Travis, the presence of SkillsUSA at the event underscored the organization’s reputation as a national talent pipeline of merit. “We were honored to be invited to this event since it is our mission to develop the best talent to fill high-quality jobs with students who are job-ready on day one,” Travis says. “Ultimately, our members will benefit from this program. It was incredibly special to see masons, aviation technicians, electricians, welders, carpenters and other skilled trades men and women in the White House representing the skilled trades.”
Commitments made through the Challenge expand equitable pathways to good jobs, boost opportunities for union jobs and meet critical skill needs for employers.
A sample of the commitments include increasing recruitment of workers in traditionally underrepresented areas of the infrastructure sector; expanding apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and other high-quality training; providing supportive services like childcare or transportation assistance; and advancing equitable workforce development for infrastructure jobs.
The Talent Pipeline Challenge encourages employers to partner with and hire skilled workers from at least one training provider in each region where the employer has operations, such as a registered apprenticeship program or a community college with a diverse student population. As part of the pledge, employers can partner with national or regional training providers to build, scale or support local training models to recruit, train or hire workers. Training partnerships are designed to 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.
The event featured hands-on demonstrations, including fiber splicing; building of a brick-and-mortar structure; virtual reality simulators to train welders and professional painters that participants could try; a training program to install and maintain electric vehicle chargers, including a switchboard station used to train apprentice electricians; training techniques to service, repair and overhaul aircraft components and systems; and a centralized gas distribution system showcase used in hospitals and care facilities.
For more information on the Talent Pipeline Challenge, see the fact sheet.