Austin is moving ahead with a proposal to create a new infrastructure academy for workforce development, with the City Council Thursday directing 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."

Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, who co-sponsored the council resolution, initially floated the proposal in February, citing the need for thousands of new workers to build the approximately $25 billion in projects in the city's pipeline — including a 10-mile light rail route, a new concourse at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and the expansion of I-35 through the city's center.

The resolution envisions the Austin Infrastructure Academy as 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, according to a study by consultant Civic Solutions Partnership, 

Possible funding strategies for the academy include allocations from existing projects and federal funds such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. 

Leaders have not yet indicated if the academy would be run by the city or a an independent, private entity.