This initiative is independent of the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service, located in the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.
The new Charles B. Rangel Infrastructure Workforce Initiative (RIWI) at The City College of New York will equip historically underserved communities with in-demand digital and operational skills through innovative curricula, simulation-based training, and experiential learning opportunities to help them pursue careers in the rapidly changing urban infrastructure sector.
RIWI aims to:
- Prepare the local workforce to enter existing and emerging career sectors by offering training in new core and advanced skills in transportation, energy, buildings, water, food, waste, and digital infrastructures.
- Empower economically disadvantaged populations, including minorities, women, veterans, the formerly incarcerated, and recent high school graduates, by improving equity of opportunity in a historically unequal infrastructure labor market.
- Provide experiential learning and networking opportunities through structured, paid internships with city and state agencies and local industries.
- Collaborate with partners in the public sector and private industries to develop and continuously update a curriculum that addresses immediate and forthcoming workforce needs.
- Equity and opportunity must be central priorities of new infrastructure and workforce development. A new, technology-savvy infrastructure workforce can and should be built atop a more equitable foundation, one where a higher degree is no longer a prerequisite for getting started in staff positions. Our approach is different from many other workforce development programs in that we focus directly on preparation for effective participation in staff and management teams — regardless of participants’ college status or professional experience.
- The digital transformation of infrastructure presents new skill needs and opportunities for entry into challenging careers. Individuals with digital competence are in demand at every level. RIWI isn’t trying to do the trades training that the unions already do well, and it isn’t taking on the task that others have been at for years, of getting the unions to open their doors through apprenticeship programs and hiring from the job site’s local community. RIWI is taking on a complementary role of equipping new members of the infrastructure workforce with digital skills essential for effective functioning in today’s work environments, focusing on heavy construction and plant and system operations.
- A new skills paradigm should be taught in new ways. RIWI is open to students as diverse as New York itself and offers training that is adaptive to their needs and experience. The curriculum makes creative use of immersive pedagogical technologies — including simulation, gamification, rapid micro-learning, augmented reality labs, and self-guided team projects — that are designed to capture learners’ attention and encourage them to deeply engage, experiment, and even play with the material. Workers graduating from the program will have the foundational learning skills that enable them to keep pace with the technological evolution of infrastructure.
- Workforce development supports community rebuilding. Training a new workforce from overlooked communities prepares them to utilize and work with new infrastructure technologies as they are developed — making the communities themselves better-situated sites for investment and economic expansion, and giving them greater say in what gets built.
- Meaningful partnerships are the foundation of our success. To develop and conduct this 21st-century training program, the RIWI development team is mobilizing stakeholders to define the dimensions of the problem: where infrastructure currently stands, where it is likely to go, and what the workforce development needs are. As part of this collaborative effort, RIWI is connecting to community-based workforce development programs and leaders of industries and public agencies to develop new pathways to infrastructure careers.