Toolkit: Investing in High-Quality Infrastructure Jobs

Toolkit: Investing in High-Quality Infrastructure Jobs

Cities have a unique opportunity to pursue, win and leverage infrastructure funds in a way that will transform their local landscape by supporting current workers, investing in the next generation and establishing standards for equitable pathways into good jobs. The significant investment flowing into communities, coupled with an unprecedented focus on good jobs and racial equity, represents a unique moment in history. And with the increasing number of baby boomer retirements, there is pressure on communities to train new generations, especially for infrastructure and climate careers. While the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) do not direct funds to the Department of Labor or the public workforce development system, most grants articulate a commitment to good jobs and equity; many grants go a step further by encouraging partnership with workforce development agencies. There are many opportunities for city leadership to creatively use BIL and IRA funding to maximize workforce impacts ranging from expanding apprenticeships to incentivizing or requiring job quality commitments through procurement processes, policies and worker education.

The Investing in High-Quality Infrastructure Jobs Toolkit will equip city leadership with ways to secure and deploy BIL and IRA funds to advance workforce development and equitable access to good jobs. The toolkit highlights five master strategies to drive workforce development through these funds:

  1. Program Design
  2. Procurement
  3. Policy
  4. Education and Enforcement
  5. Monitoring and Evaluation

These master strategies will also enable cities to drive change through influence, incentives and requirements with the goal of achieving job quality and economic growth for all community members.

This toolkit helps cities position themselves to win the funding by providing in-depth information on the workforce ecosystem, strategic partnerships, braiding of funding streams, alignment with federal guidance, and how to center equity in the work. It also highlights examples for each workforce strategy to serve as inspiration for how to start or advance workforce development efforts.

How To Use This Toolkit

Option 1: Starting from Scratch

If you are just starting to think about applying for funding, the following steps will help you along. 

Adapt and implement a job quality and equity framework. Using the examples below, start by developing an understanding of how various job quality principles can connect to your general pursuit of infrastructure funding and equity goals. You can also learn more about what BIL, IRA, as well as related federal policy and guidance say about equity and job quality to better align your proposal or project with federal priorities.

Consider how infrastructure and climate funding can be used to support workforce development. Get a high-level look at the different ways BIL and IRA can be used to advance workforce development in your community and how this guide can help you prepare a successful application that includes workforce programming and supports.

Get inspired by examples of how other cities have incorporated workforce development strategies into their winning BIL and IRA grant applications. Look at how five cities included workforce development strategies across five different grant programs.

  • Orlando, FL: Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program: FORWARD Orlando
  • Syracuse, NY: Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program: Reconnecting A Post I-81 Viaduct Syracuse
  • Burlington, VT: Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant
  • Program: Reconnecting Downtown Burlington
  • Boise, ID: Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Grant Program: Increasing Access to Electric Vehicle Charging in Boise
  • Austin, TX: Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling (SWIFR) Grant Program: Austin Reuse Warehouse

Determine the funding opportunity that is best suited to your needs. Explore a list of 35+ high-impact Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFO) for inspiration. Each NOFO overview includes detailed information on the high-level process, highlights how workforce development is included in the grant considerations, and whenever available, includes examples of winning applicants.

Tap into the existing workforce development ecosystem to ensure the proposal will have the support, knowledge and expertise to successfully win the funding. You don’t need to go it alone; many programs, partnerships and expertise already exist in your community.

Consider which workforce master strategies are best suited to your project. Depending on the requirements of your specific NOFO, you may choose to highlight one or more in your proposal to demonstrate how the city will utilize funding to deploy workforce development programs and strategies in ways that drive good jobs and equity. 

Leverage opportunities to maximize funding impact and reach, strengthen your proposal or project and, if awarded, fill any potential gaps in services, personnel or infrastructure through the blending and braiding of various funding sources. You can also explore how planning processes may help you further integrate your partnerships and funding.

Bonus: If you anticipate a funding gap, consider innovative funding models and determine whether your proposal would benefit from leveraging an existing model or whether to work with experts to develop a new model tailored to your community needs.

Option 2: Addressing Particular Gaps

If you are looking to address a gap in your application or funding pursuit approach, use the table below to navigate to the specific section. 

While BIL and IRA funding is being managed by a variety of different agencies and issued through distinct NOFOs, there are a number of common focus areas for successful awardees that show up in the NOFOs themselves, agency guidance and related executive orders. 

In developing a funding proposal, cities will see many of the focus areas below show up as practices that are either required or preferred for grant submissions. To assist in addressing these practices in your submission, click on the section to jump directly to the corresponding information.

Use of union/labor partnerships (Some applications may request letters of support.)

Partnerships with workforce development boards, educators or the workforce system

Leveraging various funding sources to support delivery or workforce development programs or supports

Recruiting and hiring from underserved communities within a given locality

Engaging local areas in dialogue to understand needs, better direct benefits, design workforce programs and protect workers

Identifying underserved representatives and how to serve them

Providing supportive services to remove barriers for underserved populations

    Educating workers on their rights, including but not limited to free and fair choice to join a union, worker organizing and empowerment, and reporting mechanisms, as well as whistleblower protections

    Using existing, proven or scale-ready registered pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeship programs or creation of new programs where gaps exist to connect workers with good jobs

    Professional skill development for new hires and incumbent workers to assist in creating pathways to good jobs

    Local inclusive economic development and wealth creation

    Support for and partnership with Small and Midsize Businesses (SMB), Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses, Minority-owned businesses, Women-owned Businesses, or 8(a) firms and other socially and economically disadvantaged businesses

    Addressing Davis-Bacon requirements and ensuring workers are aware of their wage, classification and fringe benefits

    Providing predictable and stable work schedules

    Using project labor agreements and community benefits agreements, either as part of application or in procurement or other compliance processes

    Ensuring vendors or subrecipients will apply the same standards

    Creating and maintaining safe and healthy working conditions including but not limited to adherence to safety plans, OSHA, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment protections and reporting, worker organizing and voice, classification, and equal opportunity.

    Protecting workers while on the job / prior compliance with labor standards and plans for future compliance of companies

    Plans to aggregate and report on workforce data