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Substantial recent investments in public infrastructure have created an unprecedented demand for skilled workers across a range of trades. This historical time in public investments has create a once in a generation  opportunity to benefit  the community in wealth building careers, especially for underrepresented populations in the trades such as women and people of color.  

This historic moment is the subject of “Growing Meaningful Careers in the Trades: A Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity,” a presentation by Worksystems’ Business Services Manager, Kelly Haines, and Senior Project Manager, Anthony Samperio, at the upcoming SHIFT conference, the biannual convening of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. The conference will take place in Memphis, Tenn., in late September. 

Both public- and private organizations have long histories of intentionally excluding people of color and women from jobs and economic opportunities in our region. Even as we make progress by some measures, too many workers and entrepreneurs face entrenched biased infrastructure that continues to harm their opportunities to make good wages and live their dreams,” said Haines. “Public contracting can be a tool to overcome income inequality for Black, Indigenous, and other workers of color, as well as for women workers in the trades. This presentation will cover how partners can work together on public construction projects to create long overdue economic opportunities.” 

The impact of the investments mentioned above – most notably the federal Inflation Reduction Act and American Rescue Plan Act and, here in Oregon, the Future Ready Oregon and Prosperity 10,000 initiatives, as well as Portland Clean Energy Fund – will be felt most broadly among the construction-related trades. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, and similar occupations are expected to be in high demand.  

Haines and Samperio’s presentation will highlight specific and scalable examples from the Portland Metro region where partners are coming together to solve for and invest in ways to maximize this once-in-a-generation opportunity. One such example is the Construction Career Pathways Funder Collaborative, a public-private-nonprofit partnership designed to coordinate workforce investments in order to diversify the construction trades, and create career opportunities for women and people of color. 

To learn more about the SHIFT convention, click here. 

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