“Without the marketing dollars
to alert and shift the thinking
of 18-year-olds and incumbent
workers to understand the great
job opportunities out there, it’s
hard for us.”
SUE ELLSPERMANN, president, Ivy Tech Community College
A report from the Georgetown University Center on
Education and the Workforce predicts that Trump’s infrastructure proposal could create 11 million jobs but casts
some doubt on how many of them would lead to sustainable employment. But for whatever period the jobs do last,
the authors foresee a key role for community colleges in
getting workers up to speed for that endeavor (see sidebar).
THE TRUMP PLAN
Leaders on community college campuses say their programs would be likely to benefit from federal education
and training dollars, but they believe support for infrastructure-related education will remain a pressing need whether
or not the still-undefined Trump package passes.
That’s certainly the viewpoint of Jess Guerra, chair of
advanced transportation and manufacturing at Los Angeles
Trade Technical College (LATTC) and director of the region-wide Transportation Workforce Institute, which brings
together employers and institutions of higher education
across Los Angeles and Orange counties.
“Our hope is that there is a good amount allocated to go
into the educational component, whether we’re going to
be focusing on rebuilding or re-strengthening bridges and
roads, or whatever else,” he says. “Employees need to have
the latest and greatest in terms of training and skills and
competencies that are going to be required, to make this an
infrastructure upgrade that’s going to carry us for the next
Community colleges always face a need for training dol-
lars for such career and technical education fields, Guerra
says. “These are not people who are just going to go into one
career [and stay there],” he says. “A lot of it goes into con-
struction, and the programs and projects that build those
systems. It’s all tied back into transportation.”
Allison Holmes, associate dean at Davidson County
Community College in Thomasville, North Carolina, also
hopes the Trump infrastructure package would bring educa-
tional and training dollars, especially for shorter-term non-de-
gree programs that are not eligible for federal financial aid.
In the past, she says, “We have received money
through federal grants for training of faculty, or to
become third-party testers for CDL [commercial driver’s
licenses]. We have used money to pay for scholarships.
We’ve had equipment donated—which is not coming
from the federal government—working in partnership
with companies, including vehicles, tractors and trailers.
Hopefully, we’ll see other grants that will help with the
Ivy Tech Community College, which has 30 campuses
throughout Indiana, has seen projections that about 500,000
“middle-skills” positions would need to be filled in the
If President Trump’s proposed $1
trillion infrastructure package passes
Congress and is signed into law,
infrastructure related employment
would temporarily increase from 12
percent to 14 percent of the workforce, according to a new report from
the Georgetown University Center on
Education and the Workforce.
The report, by Anthony P. Carnevale
and Nicole Smith, sees construction
and extraction ( 5. 1 million) and transportation and material moving ( 3. 6
million) as enjoying the largest job
gains among the 11 million new jobs
created. Slightly less than half ( 45
percent) of the new infrastructure jobs,
such as civil engineers and construc-
tion managers, would require at least
some college education.
“These training and education
requirements would create new
opportunities and new challenges for
the nation’s secondary and postsecondary education and training system,
especially for community colleges,” the
They also point out that Latinos
and African-Americans have lower
levels of educational attainment
overall and stand to benefit the most
from increased training opportunities.
Infrastructure workers with a high
school diploma earn a median salary of
$40,000, those with some college earn
$46,000 and those with an associate
degree make $50,000, the report says.
But would the proposal lead to
sustainable careers? That depends
on what opportunities are available
to these workers and whether they
“We do not want this infrastructure
boom to be a false dawn for American
workers,” the report’s authors say.
“The challenge we face is building
an effective education and training
system to prepare workers for them
and an effective retraining system to
provide for successful labor market
transitions when the boom in infrastructure jobs is over.”
Report sees boom from
but would it last?