FHWA is Working to Expand America’s Transportation Labor Force

Federal Highway Administration
3 min readSep 3, 2021
Photo Credit: Natalie Forbes/Corbis Documentary/via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Natalie Forbes/Corbis Documentary/via Getty Images

Labor Day celebrates the ingenuity and determination of the American worker.And it serves as a reminder how, in the years to come, developing a skilled transportation workforce will be Job #1 for the public and private sectors.

In 2019, a joint estimate from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Transportation projected that from 2012 to 2022, the transportation sector would need to hire approximately 4.6 million workers to service our system. However, in a 2020 survey of Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) members, 52 percent of respondents reported having a hard time filling some or all hourly craft positions.

Emerging construction technologies are also requiring that today’s workers have new skills, many of which are essential to the upgrade, repair, and renovation of the nation’s roads, tunnels, and bridges.

From January 2017 to December 2018, the Federal Highway Administration conducted a pilot in 12 locations — six states and six cities — to address these needs, in part by partnering with key national and local organizations to develop and deploy highway construction training and placement programs. This led to the 2019 nationwide launch of the Highway Construction Workforce Partnership (HCWP) by FHWA and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Associated General Contractors of America, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.

The HCWP is focused on bringing together partners who then work together to bring individuals into the highway construction workforce. FHWA is working with HWCP partners across the country to refine recruitment strategies and fill industry workforce gaps. Because it is important to have more applications than the number of available positions, outreach plays a major part in recruitment efforts. Partnering with regional job centers and employing outreach channels that range from social media to word-of-mouth advertising can help make sure an HCWP reaches a robust number of potential applicants.

Placement is also a key piece of HWCP efforts because it provides work opportunities, which in turn can lead to a career and economic sustainability for a worker and his or her family. To that end, HCWPs are helping train individuals to succeed in highway construction apprenticeship programs. FHWA, state DOTs, industry partners and non-profits are working together to provide training program that will address highway construction workforce needs. Supportive services such as childcare and transportation reimbursements are also provided to students to help them complete training.

The HCWP is now a major element of an FHWA Strategic Workforce Development initiative currently being advanced in 25 states. More information can be found online at

Building Tomorrow’s Highway Construction Workforce: An Introduction — YouTube and resources are also available at FHWA — Every Day Counts 6: Strategic Workforce Development Toolkit (dot.gov). Interested parties can email RoadsToYourFurture@dot.gov to learn more.

FHWA is pleased to play a role in bolstering the ranks of men and women building and maintaining our roads, bridges and highways this Labor Day and in the years to come.

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Federal Highway Administration

The Federal Highway Administration supports state and local governments in the design, construction and maintenance of America’s highway system.