Mayor Muriel Bowser has launched a program that will offer residents more training for trade and construction jobs that typically go unfilled.
The D.C. Infrastructure Academy is a partnership between D.C. public and private sector companies and aims to create a pipeline for D.C. residents to infrastructure jobs, a press release said.
Over 2.5 million infrastructure employees are expected to leave their jobs or retire in the next ten years, according to Deputy Mayor Courtney Snowden. The academy, which is modelled after successful programs in Philadelphia, Georgia and Chicago, will provide specialized training programs with a focus on helping underemployed and unemployed residents.
“The D.C. Infrastructure Academy will give D.C. residents the chance to learn the nuts and bolts of what makes our city run,” Bowser said. “Everything from utilities to transportation and logistics to operations and green technologies — and ensure that they are first in line when it comes to securing the infrastructure jobs of today and tomorrow.”
The infrastructure sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, but filling positions has been difficult. Over half of the District’s open positions in the industry went unfilled in 2016 despite an average wage of $48 per hour, according to Bowser’s office.
Starting in 2018, the Department of Employment Services will operate the academy out of an interim location east of the Anacostia River until a permanent location can be completed.
Bill Von Hoene, senior executive vice president and chief strategy officer of Exelon, said the academy will enable hundreds of people to establish careers in infrastructure in the D.C. area.
“As a local company, it’s our job to keep the lights on and the doors of opportunity open for District workers and families from every neighborhood,” Von Hoene said.