In The News

Ready to Build? The State of Skills in the Infrastructure Workforce

Ready to Build?, a new report released by the National Network of Business & Industry Associations, provides a preliminary analysis of the jobs and skills needed for infrastructure modernization and key areas where employers are already facing skill gaps.  Burning Glass Technologies prepared the infrastructure workforce analysis.

This is a critical and pressing challenge, as increased infrastructure investments would likely apply pressure on an already tight labor market. While action is already underway in many states, there is increasing talk of a federal initiative to invest in infrastructure in 2019.

The key question for the National Network was: How can the employers represented by the Network members find and/or develop the talent at scale needed to tackle this challenge? The new paper focuses on three particular “mismatches in the labor market” that affect the infrastructure sector, and highlights implications of these gaps:

  • Gap 1 – Changing Demand for Skills Creating Cross-Cutting Gaps: The changing nature of work creates gaps for key skills across a range of roles because the skills needed today differ from what the existing workforce possesses and what training providers currently offer.
  • Gap 2 – Misaligned Occupational Supply and Demand: Many rapidly growing occupations face supply shortages; there are just not enough new entrants to keep up with employer demand.
  • Gap 3 – Occupation-Specific Skill Gaps: In some roles, there may be enough workers to meet demand, but those workers do not have the specific technical skills employers are looking for.

The Burning Glass team identified three key implications of its research, which offer a roadmap for workforce planners.

Aging Workforce & Managerial Skill Gaps: In order to address managerial skill gaps, employers should think about how they can create internal career pathways and training opportunities to cultivate the next generation of managers from workers within their own ranks, who understand the company’s goals, processes and culture.

Advancing Technology and Technical Skill Gaps: In today’s rapidly changing technological landscape, employers and their partners in education, training, and workforce development must be joined ever more closely to ensure graduates are prepared to contribute. In order to address technology skill gaps, employers can work with local training providers to ensure that the skills taught and certifications offered align with today’s demand. Employers should also consider alternative sources of talent as a way to fill needs associated with new technologies.

Expanding the Pipeline to Meet Projected Demand: Many occupations are growing faster than training providers can supply relevant talent. In these cases, addressing the gap likely requires a combination of enhanced recruitment and outreach to encourage people to consider the role and increasing the scale of available training opportunities.

In addition, Ready to Build? outlines specific areas for additional research on the nature of skill gaps and workforce need in order to develop targeted and localized strategies to address gaps on a region-by-region and industry-by-industry basis.