A new analysis of President-elect Donald Trump’s $1 trillion proposal to revamp the nation’s infrastructure could create as many as 11 million new jobs over the next decade, including positions that would require at least an associate degree or postsecondary certificate.
About 45 percent of the new infrastructure jobs would require at least some college education and training, including jobs for civil engineers and construction managers, according to an analysis by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW).
“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 CEW report said.
Almost a quarter of the new jobs would go to people with postsecondary vocational certificates, industry-based certificates or some college but no formal degree, according to the analysis. More than a fifth (21 percent) of them would go to managerial positions for highly educated workers with two-year, four-year or graduate degrees. More than half would go to high school graduates or dropouts, but many of those jobs would require some formal or informal on-the-job training.
In her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Elaine Chao, Trump’s pick for transportation secretary and a former labor secretary in the George W. Bush administration, said infrastructure would be an area of focus for her.
She discussed the need to “rebuild, refurbish and revitalize America’s infrastructure, so the economy can grow and create good-paying jobs.”
Some of the challenges
Infrastructure jobs — which would include the transportation, energy, telecommunications and border security sectors — comprise 12 percent of U.S. jobs; the infrastructure stimulus would bump that to 14 percent of all jobs, the report said. Most of those new jobs would be in male-dominated sectors, such as construction and extraction, and transportation and material-moving occupations. The analysis said 92 percent of the new jobs would be for men.
Although infrastructure jobs pay very well, the researchers noted that the boom in jobs would be temporary for many workers, since most of newly-created jobs would disappear when the federal spending ended.
The longer challenge, the report said, is whether those newly learned skills would transfer to available careers when the infrastructure wave ends. The researchers were skeptical about that based on previous experiences in the manufacturing sector, where skills didn’t easily transfer to a growing high-tech service economy.
“Over the next decade, there will be lots of good jobs that require less than a baccalaureate degree but will require some education or training beyond high school,” the report said. “Many of these jobs are unlikely to be in blue-collar infrastructure occupations. Most of these good sub-baccalaureate jobs are in occupations like white-collar office jobs, accounting and finance, healthcare, and information technology.”