With the redevelopment of Port Covington, the City of Baltimore has raised the bar for workforce development.
America’s Report Card: A Wake-Up Call
The road to modern infrastructure, however, will be long. In March, we learned that America’s 2017 grade for infrastructure is a D+. (Curious about how your state is doing?) This barely passing grade, as determined by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), means that:
The infrastructure is in poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of their service life. A large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration. Condition and capacity are of serious concern with strong risk of failure.
Though not caused by deterioration, the recent highway collapse in Atlanta reminds us how devastating and far-reaching the loss of critical infrastructure can be. And while the complexities of addressing our D+ are daunting and the risks from inaction keep growing, within the developing plans and political debate about improving our nation’s infrastructure lies a golden opportunity.
The Opportunity To Rebuild Lives
Construction unemployment rates are at all-time lows, and yet the $4.6 trillion national investment required for infrastructure improvement over the next ten years will create a tremendous demand for new workers. Without an empowered workforce in place, projects could face missed deadlines and rising labor costs.
The tight market for skilled construction workers creates an opportunity for training and employment within the local community and opens the door to workforce re-engagement for those who’ve been sidelined due to job loss, incarceration, or even societal pressures.
The same idea could be applied to a national, federally-financed or subsidized infrastructure program. Public or private entities that receive public funding or tax credits for infrastructure repair and construction could be required to recruit, train, and employ locally. Project-specific targets for long-term unemployed individuals could ensure that economic benefits reach marginalized populations.
It Takes Shared Commitment
Commercial enterprises need reliable, job-ready, professional and skilled-trade workers to build and maintain the infrastructure. Government and community entities need to prepare, educate, train, and upskill residents to successfully meet that demand. Each stakeholder group comes to the table with long lists of concerns, and a closer look at the issues highlights some of the interdependencies for overall project success and jobs creation.
As Port Covington ramps up, it’s hard not to see new life — and familiar faces —rising up along the shore.
Can Baltimore raise our D+ infrastructure grade? How did we get here, and where do we go now? Tell us what you think on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.