Midwest Take Note: St. Louis is Taking the Lead with New Partnership Model for Highway Construction Workforce Development

In a ground-breaking strategy, transportation organizations and workforce development boards are coming together to share expertise and resources to grow the transportation workforce. As part of a national initiative, St. Louis, Missouri will lead the way for the Midwest as one of a dozen sites selected to pilot this model across the country.

This step represents a remarkable opportunity to refine the Midwest Strategy—a cohesive approach across our states for growing the transportation talent pipeline. As other industries have built successful programs in collaboration with their state and local workforce development boards (WDBs), the transportation industry can draw on these models and emulate similar partnerships. Even as the project was being announced, additional Midwestern cities and states are following St. Louis’ lead to explore new ways to build partnership and collaboration across agencies and with industry partners.

Workforce development boards bring a wealth of resources to such collaborations, excelling at building community connections, building business networks, and acting regionally. Likewise, the transportation sector brings strong industry leadership to the table together with domain expertise in select areas such as certification and licensing and mid-career recruitment.

St. Louis is one of a dozen sites across the United States selected for the Highway Construction Workforce Development Pilot program. This program is a partnership between the Federal Highway Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Associated General Contractors of America, American Road & Transportation Builders Association, the US Department of Labor-Employment & Training Administration, and state and local workforce development boards.

The project was created to address the challenge of developing a skilled and diverse workforce. Project partners will evaluate methods and processes to close skills gaps in highway construction and to draw qualified applicants into these occupations. Work will also be done to identify, train and place individuals in high-demand highway construction occupations.

The pilot locations include select cities and states. The cities are Pittsburgh, Atlanta, St. Louis, Dallas, Denver, and Los Angeles. The states are Connecticut, Rhode Island, Alabama, South Dakota, Arizona, and Idaho.

SLATE, the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment, is the Workforce Development Board that is identifying constructions projects and convening local stakeholders. The MTWC will provide updates as the St. Louis working group identifies new processes.

About the Author

Maria Hart is a freight transportation researcher and a transportation planner by trade. Hart manages all center activities including stakeholder engagement and outreach strategies. She also curates the transportation workforce resource clearinghouse database. Hart applies social science approaches to center activities, including such methods as collective impact, community building, and communities of practice, in order to inspire conversations around transportation workforce development that drive innovation.