Having completed their first year, the cities and states in the Highway Construction Workforce Pilot recently met via webinar to take stock of their progress and share strategies that are working. Overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the national initiative was begun in the fall of 2016 with the goal, “to meet the transportation workforce challenge and harness the energy, expertise, and communication networks of all stakeholders.” Midwest Transportation Workforce Center highlighted the St. Louis pilot location last year for their partnership with their Workforce Development Board.
Across the initiative, the FHWA reported that many of the pilot locations have formed working groups and begun working on initiative goals with two of the locations having delivered an “Identify, Train, and Place Program,” a stated outcome of the initiative.
The initiative uncovered best practices that are becoming familiar across the Transportation sector:
- Building relationships and forming partnerships with stakeholders
- Participation in the working groups by a diverse representation of stakeholders, especially contractors
- Combating stereotypes/perceptions of highway construction jobs, especially among middle school and high school students and their parents and teachers
- Developing a pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship program
To assist the pilot locations, a suite of marketing tools were developed to help spread the word and increase awareness about the initiative. These include billboards, posters, flyers, and postcards, all with the hashtag #RoadstoYourFuture.
Two of the pilot states, Alabama and Arizona shared their case studies.
For this project, the Alabama team was able to build on successful practices already in place in the state including the Alabama Industrial Development Training system, marketing and outreach done by the community college programs, and the Alabama Department of Transportation On-the-Job Training Program. They began by focusing on entry-level employees and learned a lot from their project partners about where to focus marketing efforts and where to find available resources.
The Arizona pilot site worked closely with contractors early on to determine workforce needs. From this they determined that industry readiness was a high priority. They also zeroed-in on at-risk youth age 18 to 24 and dislocated workers for their initial outreach efforts.
For more information on the national initiative, visit the Highway Construction Workforce Pilot program website.