As the first step in a larger study on the challenges facing…

Posted May 2020

As the first step in a larger study on the challenges facing the critical infrastructure workforce and the risks to national security posed by a lack of skilled workers, the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) conducted a panel discussion on May 21st with subject matter experts and sector representatives from water, electricity and transportation to introduce workforce challenges, identify potential issues, and ask key questions that could be further explored in the study. Center Executive Director, Jack Clark, served on the panel as a subject matter expert for the public transportation industry. Michael Innocenzo, the CEO of PECO and an official of the Edison Electric Institute, represented electricity, and Chad Weikel of the American Water Works Association represented the water and waste water secor. Jack Clark provided insight into the challenges that agencies are facing as they struggle to provide training while maintaining service amid increasing retirement and a wave of technological advancements. He also shared how the Center has approached these challenges through the development of training using a consortium model and the implementation of registered apprenticeship. IAC Commissioner and Vice Chair Dr. Beverly Scott remarked that the three sectors clearly share common problems and common potential solutions in facing workforce crises in their sectors.

The NIAC is conducting the study at the request of the National Security Council (NSC) and will develop near-term and long-term recommendations to improve worker readiness to ensure the continuity of our Nation’s critical infrastructure sectors. This is a broad study topic that will require the NIAC to examine a range of issues, such as how to build the workforce of tomorrow to respond to the dynamic risk environment and next-generation technology, address the loss of institutional knowledge from retiring workers, create standards and metrics to measure skills and competencies for vital workers, and develop a pipeline of talent to support critical infrastructure. While the study is not focused on the global pandemic, the current situation has highlighted a number of workforce issues, including the mobility of critical occupations to areas of need.

The President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) is the only executive council that examines cross-sector critical infrastructure security and resilience issues and provides recommendations to the President on how to keep the nation’s infrastructure safe. The Council is made of up to 30 senior executives from across the critical infrastructure sectors who volunteer their time to examine these serious issues for the President. The Council’s representation from the different sectors and levels of government enable it to effectively identify cross-sector risks and ways to address them.

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