Durbin, Duckworth Applaud DOT's Expansion Of Local Hire And Workforce Development Pilot Programs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today applauded the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) decision to expand construction hiring and workforce development pilot programs. The programs, which will be managed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA), will give contracting agencies expanded flexibility to use hiring preferences to enhance workforce development opportunities for those in economically or socially disadvantaged communities. A similar DOT pilot program began during the Obama administration, but was halted by the Trump administration in 2017.

“These pilot programs are an investment in our workers and good-paying jobs,” Durbin said. “I’m pleased that Secretary Buttigieg and the Biden Administration have restored these initiatives, which will ensure that the communities where infrastructure projects are taking place are able to benefit from the job and training opportunities that those projects provide.”

“I’m glad Secretary Buttigieg acted on my call to empower state and local governments with the freedom to encourage local job creation through infrastructure projects and am hopeful that this announcement will not only spur local job creation, but will also promote robust competition for contracts,” Duckworth said. “I look forward to reviewing the results of the Biden Administration’s innovative local hire and workforce development expanded pilot programs.” 

FHWA’s Enhancing Workforce Development Opportunities Contracting Initiative will help to rebuild the skilled workforce needed to improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure. The four-year pilot program will enable state transportation agencies and contractors to better recruit qualified construction workers, which can be challenging in many parts of the country. For some, construction projects represent an employment opportunity for residents, and perhaps the first step toward a construction career. 

FTA’s construction hiring and workforce development initiative, the Equitable Economic Recovery and Workforce Development Through Construction Hiring Pilot Program, is a four-year pilot program that will allow transit agencies to use geographic, economic, or other hiring preferences on FTA-funded construction projects.