Biden-Harris administration launches initiative to promote equal opportunity, expand workforce for federally funded jobs in large infrastructure projects
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor announced today, on Equal Pay Day, the launch of an initiative to promote equal opportunity by federal contractors in the construction trades on large federally funded projects, helping to bring more underrepresented communities into the workforce as the President’s agenda to Invest in America continues creating millions of good-paying jobs.
Established by the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the newly launched “Mega Construction Project Program” will focus the agency’s efforts to bring the public and private sectors together on a select group of projects known as “Megaprojects” to provide a diverse pool of qualified workers with access to good jobs in the construction trades. Megaprojects are large federal construction projects valued at $35 million or more – some part of which must be federal funding – and that last more than one year.
For the initial group of designated Megaprojects, OFCCP will partner with the General Services Administration and the Department of Transportation – two Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding agencies – and provide extensive and no-cost compliance assistance to contractors and subcontractors to strengthen recruitment, hiring, and fair employment practices, with a particular focus on getting more underrepresented communities, including women, into the construction workforce.
For each Megaproject, OFCCP will provide free, continuous, on-the-ground assistance to help project owners with stakeholder outreach and information sharing, providing connections to recruitment sources in the community so that projects can fully use the local workforce to get the needed talent. From the earliest stages of a designated Megaproject, OFCCP will engage a wide range of stakeholders in the community – including worker advocates, community-based organizations, and local recruitment sources – to remove barriers to opportunity and foster strong connections and build trust with the community. In addition, OFCCP will conduct compliance reviews to evaluate contractors’ anti-discrimination and equal opportunity practices.
The Mega Construction Project Program supports the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to building the middle class from the bottom up and middle out by advancing accessible pathways for all workers to the construction trades. In doing this work, OFCCP supports successful implementation of the administration’s historic investments made in the BIL, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act by aiding construction contractors in recruiting, hiring, and retaining all available talent to advance the success of infrastructure projects across the nation. Megaprojects are a key tool that help create entry into good, family-sustaining careers for underrepresented workers, like women, who are more likely to be concentrated in low-wage work. By providing women with access to good-paying construction jobs and helping to create equitable workplaces where they can advance, the Mega Construction Project Program will help close gender and racial wage gaps.
Today’s announcement follows actions announced on Feb. 28, 2023, by the Department of Commerce to help expand opportunities for women in the semiconductor manufacturing and construction workforces by better meeting families’ child care needs. To meet increased demand for chip manufacturing and construction labor, the Commerce Department announced that companies seeking more than $150 million in direct funding from the CHIPS Incentives Program, authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act, must submit a plan to provide access to childcare that reflects the childcare needs of their workers in communities where they plan to build. The Department of Labor’s Good Jobs Initiative and Women’s Bureau supported the Commerce Department to make this requirement actionable for grantees.
OFCCP looks forward to designating more Megaprojects in the future, potentially including projects funded by the Department of Commerce through the CHIPS and Science Act, and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law projects funded by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. The robust participation in this program by a range of federal agencies demonstrates the whole-of-government approach that the Biden-Harris administration is taking to combat discrimination and advance equal opportunity for all communities.
“The newly launched Mega Construction Project Program will focus on some of the nation’s most important infrastructure projects to provide equal opportunity to all workers by removing barriers that have historically prevented our construction trades from tapping the full talent that exists in communities that have been underrepresented,” explained Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Jenny R. Yang. “With the once-in-a-generation investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we established this program to use this momentum to create equal opportunities for all of America’s workers to prosper.”
“Right now, America is taking on some of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in living memory, and we cannot succeed if we leave any talent on the table,” said Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. “The infrastructure we’re building today will strengthen our economy, keep our citizens safe, and create a generation of good jobs that can lift millions to new levels of prosperity and financial security.”
“Thanks to President Biden’s CHIPS Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, we are making a once-in-a generation investment in American infrastructure and manufacturing, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in construction and the trades,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “These good-paying jobs with family-sustaining benefits are key to building and retaining a diverse workforce in the construction industry, especially as we look to encourage more women to join the trades. We need to build a workforce that looks like America and this initiative will ensure that more Americans have access to quality construction jobs.”
“As the Department of Energy and the federal government work to fight climate change, we need to set an example creating equitable pathways into good-paying jobs, whether in the energy sector or in the construction projects that support it,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The Department of Energy is proud to partner with the Department of Labor’s Mega Construction Project Program to ensure there are opportunities for everyone to work on important projects across the country as we build out our clean energy infrastructure.”
“Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America, we are breaking ground on construction projects across the country to clean up pollution, safeguard natural resources, and protect public health,” said Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA is proud to partner with the Department of Labor on its Mega Construction Projects Program because we know that this historic investment to protect the environment and advance environmental justice will create good-paying jobs that support families across the country. This new partnership will support federal contractors in implementing best practices for high-quality job creation and expanding economic opportunity."
“Ensuring federal construction projects benefit from the skills of a diverse and well-trained workforce is good for taxpayers and communities. We’re thrilled to be partnering with the Department of Labor to promote equal opportunity in the construction trades, close wage gaps for underserved groups, and advance the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to equitable economic growth,” said General Services Administration Administrator Robin Carnahan.