Policy & Tools: Construction Careers

Developing real construction career opportunities in urban areas requires work on two levels. On the one hand, public policy has to support a high-road construction industry, where family-supporting wages, benefits, and skills and safety training are the norm. On the other hand, public policy must create demand for targeted workers and establish the workforce and training system that ensures qualified workers are ready to fill new jobs. Construction careers policies and policy approaches find innovative ways to work on both levels at once.

After years of often-contentious experience, a consensus is emerging that the strongest approach to achieving quality jobs and new opportunities is a signed project labor agreement, combining job quality standards with targeted hiring requirements. These agreements, sometimes called Community Workforce Agreements, set the terms for the project, providing a comprehensive framework for ensuring that construction creates high quality jobs and provides opportunities for new workers to get into construction careers.

In many markets, though, project labor agreements are rarely, if ever, negotiated, and overall standards in these regional construction markets are low. With few local precedents to draw from, advocates for construction careers may find that they have to start by establishing that publicly-funded or managed construction should create high quality jobs through alternative sets of standards.

Learn more about the innovative policy approaches our partners are developing for building high-quality construction markets in their regions.