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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Liu

Observation : The Role of Reliable Infrastructure in Workforce Development

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Physical and social infrastructures can improve and simplify the daily lives of workers and trainees.

Education is an investment of time. Learners take away time from work and home in the pursuit of knowledge. Although educational institutions can accommodate training to the convenience of each learner through online courses, night school, or short-term certification programs, employers are less forgiving with job schedules and attendance. One goal of the workforce development effort is to enable both learners and workers to fully dedicate themselves to training and work while maintaining the health, safety, and financial stability of themselves and their families. The construction of physical and social infrastructures is the route to achieving this goal.

Physical Infrastructure

Reliable and affordable broadband allows learners to engage in educational instruction virtually. However, internet speeds in rural America remain below the Federal Communications Commission’s benchmark. The Appalachian Regional Commission, which is dedicated to improving infrastructure in Appalachia, distributes grants to utility companies for fiber optic cable installation in geographically isolated areas. The internet supports the economic successes of businesses in those areas and the quality of hospitals and emergency services. Increased broadband for Americans in rural communities guarantees them stable, convenient access to workforce training and boosts their well-being in terms of access to goods and level of safety.

Extensive transportation systems and well-maintained roadways enable students and workers to commute to their schools and employers safely and efficiently. The ability of rural residents to reach supermarkets, medical offices, and recreational facilities when necessary or desired determines the well-being of their communities. The Appalachian Regional Commission works with the transportation departments of the thirteen Appalachian states to continue the development of the Appalachian Development Highway System, a 3,090-mile series of roadways that connects the region to major external highways.

Social Infrastructure

Access to affordable healthcare and childcare enables workers to maintain the physical and mental conditions to remain employed for a prolonged period of time and at work for full shifts each day. The Patrick & Henry Community College’s Economic Development Center, aware of these needs, consolidated several brochures advertising affordable educational, health, and childcare services at the visitor’s entrance. One brochure listed information about the Piedmont Community Service’s Community Recovery Program for those struggling with substance use. Another brochure for ChildCare Aware of Virginia promoted a customized childcare program. Nearby brochures highlighted free GED courses— PHCC’s decision to place the various types of brochures together highlighted the impact of social infrastructure on a learner’s ability to smoothly complete their training and a worker’s ability to reach their career aspirations.

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