This study examines the challenges facing the critical infrastructure workforce and investigate the potential risks such challenges pose to U.S. national security.
People are essential to critical infrastructure, but the United States has not given worker readiness the same attention it devotes to protecting critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats. The consequences of failure, however, are no less severe. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified the U.S. government’s own workforce gaps as a “high-risk” area since 2001, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further amplified the range of challenges facing American workers.1 The Nation is falling short in providing the workers it needs to plan, design, build, operate, maintain, and repair the infrastructure that supports the basic functions of American society.
To address this gap, the National Security Council (NSC) asked the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) to examine the challenges facing the critical infrastructure workforce and investigate the potential risks such challenges pose to U.S. national security. After conducting substantial research and interviewing dozens of senior leaders and experts, the NIAC found that the workforce development system in the United States lacks the coordination, data, and strategic human capital management necessary to ensure a skilled workforce for critical infrastructure.
In this report, the NIAC presents its analysis and offers nine recommendations to inform future policy development and keep the critical infrastructure workforce nimble in the face of change and prepared to maintain the stability of American society when disaster strikes. The NIAC’s recommendations are guided by the principle that all workers must have equitable access to the education, training, and resources necessary to begin and advance in critical infrastructure careers.