During AGG1 Academy & Expo/World of Asphalt, the Rock and Road Talks included “The Deal of a Lifetime: Capitol Hill’s Infrastructure and Workforce Development Opportunity,” a discussion about funding for infrastructure and finding and keeping a good workforce.
The discussion panel was made up of Randy Lake, President of CRH Americas Materials, Inc., and 2018 Chairman of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA); John Grote, Global Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Grote Industries, Inc., and 2019 Construction Equipment Sector Board Director of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM); and John L. Harper, Senior Vice President of Construction Partners, Inc., and 2019 Chairman of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA).
The discussion moderator, Nicki Kitchen, Executive Director of the Build Indiana Council, began the discussion by asking the panel, if President Trump and the members of Congress who have voiced support for a potential new federal infrastructure funding package are able to pass one, what would be most important to their companies and associations.
Listen to the panel’s answers in the video below:
The panel went on to discuss the importance of passing infrastructure legislation in the next six months, before Congress is distracted by reelection campaigns.
“The realities of our political system will take over in the 2020 election, where everybody’s attention will be focused on that,” Lake said during the discussion. “This will just be another reason to kick the can down the road.”
If legislation comes through this year, finding the workforce for the jobs will be the next big hurdle. The panel would like to see the government help with workforce development.
“I think if there was a vocational part to the infrastructure for training that could go to the states that we could utilize, I think that would be very beneficial,” Harper said during the panel discussion.
“I agree, and I think if you combine that with an apprenticeship program to make it quicker,” Grote said, adding that allowing the aging workforce with tons of knowledge to help train the new employees would help. “Maybe they’re not trained to be teachers, but I’m sure they can teach the job really well. Incentivize them to get back engaged and allow them to teach this next generation of kids coming up. That would be huge.”
The panel stressed that it all depends on Congress pushing through infrastructure funding legislation. They ask everyone to contact their Senator and Representative in the coming weeks to help push that along.