The passing of the Bipartisan infrastructure law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) by Congress to enhance America’s infrastructure and competitiveness is a once-in-a-generation investment.
Bipartisan infrastructure law intends to rebuild America’s roads, bridges, and rails, improve public transportation, build a network of Electric Vehicles (EVs), upgrade power infrastructure, and develop the nation’s ports and airports. This law plans to invest in water infrastructure by eliminating lead pipes, providing safe drinking water, and expanding broadband infrastructure to enhance connectivity and availability of the internet. It will work towards uplifting communities left behind and reducing greenhouse emissions.
The act also has certain indirect benefits, such as lowering inflationary pressures as inflation is high. Experts believe that this act could reduce prices by removing bottlenecks in the supply chain, increase capacity to produce more goods and services hence address supply shocks and generate employment opportunities, particularly civil engineering jobs.
What are the major sectors Bipartisan Law covers?
- Repairing of Roads and Bridges: 1 in every 5 miles of highway and major roads along with 45000 bridges are in poor condition as per the White House website. This law invests $110 billion for repairing and other Civil Engineering related projects.
- Broadband Infrastructure: According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the US has the 2nd highest costly broadband; this further augments with non-availability in some regions. As per the White House, 30 million Americans live in areas without broadband infrastructure. With the advent of this law, $65 billion is invested in ensuring the availability of reliable internet speed with lower prices.
- Water Infrastructure: As per the White House website, the lack of safe drinking water is still a persistent issue for 30 million American households and 400,000 schools. This law invests in water infrastructure with $55 billion for safe drinking water and eliminating lead service pipes.
- Improving Transportation in line with the environment: Bipartisan legislation plans to invest $39 billion to modernize transit, including expanding public transport and replacing deficient vehicles with clean, zero-emission vehicles. It will address the challenges of inadequate public transport and the greenhouse gas emissions by the transportation sector. This law also plans to invest $66 billion in passenger rail.
- Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: This legislation plans to invest $7.5 billion to build a national network of electric vehicle chargers across the US to address the problem of pollution affecting climate.
The spending is not limited to the above sectors only. As per the White House website, this law will also invest $17 billion and $25 billion in upgrading ports and airports, $65 billion in power infrastructure, including clean energy transmission, and $21 billion to clean up Superfund and Brownfield sites.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is historic. It generates enormous Civil Engineering opportunities but utilizing such huge investments possesses challenges in Civil Engineering recruitment. Human resources are the ones who are going to shape this law into reality.
Civil Engineering Recruitment Challenges:
As per the National League of Cities (NLC) report, nearly one-third of jobs associated with construction face difficulty in finding a workforce. This Act will aggravate this problem further as:
- Shortage of labor is the main obstacle in Civil Engineering recruitment.
- Civil Engineering faces a “Silver Tsunami” with the workforce’s retirement.
- Less enrolment of students in community colleges and decreased investment in workforce training.
- Lack of awareness of the potential opportunities in the construction industry resulting in the decline of high school students willing to pursue civil engineering.
- The Hechinger Report states that more than 60% of construction workers lost their job between 2007- 2009. Most of them never returned or were reluctant to join the construction sector creating a massive demand for workers.
Although the challenges are many, the Bipartisan bill has a huge potential in creating opportunities and jobs across different industry verticals.
Civil Engineering Opportunities Associated with Bipartisan Infrastructure Law:
- Demand for Civil Engineers: Carrying out the construction of any infrastructure requires people from Civil Engineering backgrounds, thus creating good job opportunities for professionals such as Civil Engineers, Field Engineer, Site Engineers, Design Engineer, Estimators, Structural Engineers, Geotech Engineers, Surveyors, Architects, Project Managers, Project Engineers, Highway Engineers, Railway Engineers, Bridge Engineers, Hydraulic Engineer, and Transport engineers.
- Opportunities for undergraduates: Tony Carnevale, who heads the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, estimates that infrastructure law would create about a million jobs, with 70% of them filled by people who didn’t go to college.
- Construction opportunities in rural areas: “Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not”, Mr. President said in a media briefing. This law plans to invest in development projects in remote areas resulting in ample opportunities for workers in such regions.
- Training of workforce: As per the National League of Cities (NLC) report, around 60% of available construction jobs require six months or less training, thus creating scope for educators to design training programs that can build a strong nation’s workforce.
- Involvement of civil engineering staffing services: The need for Civil Engineering staffing services will rise as construction companies would need workforce and Civil Engineering staffing agencies to have a network of candidates database and connections making it easy to hire a potential resource.
Bipartisan infrastructure legislation offers a great deal of opportunity, but it will also present some inevitable challenges. As Mr. President said, “There’s nothing beyond our capacity when we work together.” iQuasar LLC’s Civil Engineering staffing experience, extensive industry connections, and candidate database helps our clients to find quality candidates for challenging roles.