On Monday, National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard, Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden, and Investing in America Chief Economist Heather Boushey met with a group of union tradeswomen and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) representatives. They discussed opportunities and challenges for women in the skilled construction trades and how the Biden-Harris Administration is working to help women enter and succeed in good construction jobs—including the importance of investing in flexible child care and other supportive services, expanding pre-apprenticeship programs, strengthening mentoring initiatives, and confronting discrimination and harassment.
President Biden’s Investing in America agenda—including the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act—is creating millions of good-paying jobs across the nation, most of which don’t require a college degree. The Biden-Harris Administration is using all tools available to ensure these investments encourage strong union protections, equity, and training. Under the President’s leadership, we’ve added 670,000 construction jobs since January 2021, creating a nationwide demand for skilled trades. These are well-paying, union jobs that provide a living wage and a path for economic mobility.
This past year saw the highest participation rate of women in the workforce to date, yet women make up only 14 percent of the construction workforce and 4 percent of the trades. Participants noted that President Biden’s Investing in America agenda creates an opportunity to attract more women into the construction sector while meeting the demand for highly skilled workers. Recruiting and retaining women for these good jobs in the trades is critical to rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, expanding the manufacturing boom, and accelerating the clean energy revolution. The Biden-Harris Administration is promoting supportive services, such as child care, and launched five Workforce Hubs across the country over the last year to create new pipelines to good jobs created by public and private sector investments mobilized by the Administration’s economic agenda. President Biden has also secured historic funding to expand and diversify registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, doubling down on programs that we know work to bring more people into the trades. Companies receiving funding through the CHIPS and Science Act are required to provide child care in order to make these good jobs accessible. The Department of Labor’s Megaprojects Program is providing support for equal employment opportunities and non-discrimination practices at large federal construction sites. The President has also signed an Executive Order on the Use of Project Labor Agreements, requiring project labor agreements with limited exceptions for Federal contractors on construction projects.