Citing the need for thousands of new workers to build the approximately $25 billion in projects in the city's pipeline, Austin Mayor Kirk Watson is proposing the city fund and support a new infrastructure academy for workforce development.

Watson and several co-sponsors have introduced a resolution to do just that to the Austin City Council, could discuss it as soon as its March 7 meeting.

The resolution would direct the city manager to "develop and implement a program to fund and support workforce development and to maximize the City's ability to receive federal funding for workforce development."

According to the resolution, the Austin Infrastructure Academy would be a “one-of-a-kind public-private infrastructure network that integrates recruitment, a comprehensive training hub, childcare support, and placement services to connect local people to career pathways in infrastructure development.”

Some of the duties the academy, for which Watson proposes the construction of a real-life building, would be charged with include aligning training programs with in-demand skills, offering childcare and other wraparound services to eliminate participation barriers, recruiting "underserved Austinites" for its talent pipeline, and facilitating the matching of trained job seekers with job creators

The academy would focus on skilled trade such as electrical work, plumbing, and carpentry. It would also include training for CapMetro transit drivers.

The initiative aims to increase the local workforce capacity 81 percent by 2040, with the goal of training and increasing the skills of 4,000 people a year to contribute to the 10,000 workers a year needed for current and planned projects including the Project Connect transportation plan and the Austin airport expansion.

A (surprise!) public-private partnership would be part of the funding equation, with strategies that include allocations from existing projects and federal funds such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.