How to Use Infrastructure Funding for Workforce Development
June 14, 2024

Even though many of the grants do not specifically set aside funding for workforce development, cities can use BIL and IRA’s commitment to equity and good jobs to advance workforce development by:  

Creating or expanding construction, green energy and related trades training: This can include writing new curriculum and learning approaches, scaling an existing training model to incorporate more people, or expanding access to a broader set of candidates (e.g., neighborhoods, age groups, justice-involved populations) into the grant proposal or project alongside physical infrastructure and green investments. See sections on earn and learn models, occupational skill development and essential skill development for details and examples. 

 Investing in necessary supports to help workers and businesses succeed: This ranges from navigation support to providing hands-on assistance or financial aid for childcare, transportation, and other basic needs; can be accomplished by including the resources and staff costs associated with carrying out the work in grant budgets, as well as through partnerships. Specialized supports such as legal aid or expungement are also crucial for some populations. See sections on supportive services and business support for details and examples. 

 Using policy to create an environment where workers and businesses thrive: This includes removing barriers for small and midsize businesses, assessing community impact of infrastructure implementation and requiring protections for workers. This can be accomplished by using the momentum created by the pursuit of such funds as the agency for change. See sections on living wage, scheduling, local hire, safety standards, project labor agreements, community benefits agreements, and responsible bidder policies for details and examples. 

Using the power of procurement to demonstrate the city’s commitment to equity and good jobs: This can include leaning on the diversification of vendors, as well as requiring or incentivizing evidenced-based models for carrying out the work. This can be accomplished by ensuring good jobs and equity standards that are embedded in every BIL/IRA subgrant that the city issues. This can also be extended to other funding sources such as general fund, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) or Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to lean even further into the commitment. See section on procurement for more details and examples. 

Enforcing existing regulations to protect and uplift workers: This can include not only educating employers on their responsibilities and leveraging the power of traditional enforcement mechanisms, but using the BIL/IRA investment as an opportunity to create worker-led decision-making bodies such as industry boards. Cities should examine their existing education, community engagement and enforcement activities for construction, trades and green economy jobs. See the sections on strategic enforcement, worker/industry boards and worker education and engagement for more details and examples. 

Collecting and measuring the impact of the work on all individuals: Developing detailed logic models that outline outputs, outcomes and impact provides the basis for measurement and should be used to inform grant submissions. Additionally, evaluations should be built into grant budgets as a mechanism to validate that programs are having their intended impact. See sections on logic models and evaluation for more details and examples. 

Achievement of any of these workforce development objectives requires a multipronged approach that includes a blend of encouragement, incentives and requirements.

Type Description Can Be Achieved Through…
Encouragement Stimulating action through providing information, sharing values or recognizing commitment
  • Highlighting best or promising practices
  • Offering office hours or community sessions
  • Producing guides, tips and streamlined processes
  • Supplying benchmarking and reporting
  • Providing free marketing or public relations
Incentives Helping a business or organization voluntarily implement or accelerate a change
  • Offering tax credits
  • Providing exclusive or favorable access to capital
  • Delivering wage subsidies
  • Awarding or publicly honoring employers
  • Implementing preference points in a procurement
  • Reducing administrative requirements in exchange for certain behaviors or data
Requirements Mandating and enforcing change through policy, regulations or access
  • Including equity or job quality requirements in a procurement
  • Implementing or requiring living wage, stable scheduling, paid leave, local hire policies or access to supportive services such as transportation and childcare
  • Requiring project labor or community benefits agreements
  • Mandating heat ordinances or other safety standards 
  • Proactively using strategic enforcement
  • Creating worker / industry standard boards

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