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WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg today announced expanded construction hiring and workforce development pilot programs to be managed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Buttigieg made the announcement at an event at the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.
“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,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “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 the FHWA and FTA programs will expand contracting agencies’ ability to use hiring preferences to benefit economically or socially disadvantaged communities. From 2015 to 2017, the USDOT piloted a similar program. The Federal Highway Administration’s Enhancing Workforce Development Opportunities Contracting Initiative will assist in rebuilding the skilled workforce required to maintain and improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure.
The four-year pilot program aims to assist state transportation agencies and contractors in recruiting qualified construction workers, which can be difficult in many parts of the country. For some, construction projects provide residents with employment opportunities and may serve as the first step toward a career in construction.
“The transportation construction industry requires additional skilled workers from a variety of backgrounds,” Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack stated.
“Through this program, the next generation of highway construction workers will gain new career opportunities.”
The 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 hire transit employees based on geographic, economic, or other factors.
“This FTA pilot program will provide flexibility to transit agencies to promote equitable jobs and workforce development, particularly for economically or socially disadvantaged workers,” said Deputy Federal Transit Administrator Nuria Fernandez.
Both the FHWA and the FTA’s local hire initiatives will increase participation in existing training and apprenticeship programs, including the FHWA’s On-the-Job Training (OJT) programs and the FTA’s innovative public transportation Workforce Development Program. The organization chosen to operate the center will assist transit agencies in implementing best practices for recruiting new employees to support advanced technology initiatives such as electric buses and high-speed rail.
The pilot programs for the local-hire initiative will be published in the Federal Register later this week and are open to recipients and subrecipients of federal FHWA and FTA funds. FHWA administers the pilot program through Section 199B of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, and its Special Experimental Project No. 14 (SEP-14) program, which promotes innovative contracting approaches.
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