KDOT trying to hire hundreds of operators amid high turnover

Updated Feb 22, 2019


kdot roadwork crews

The Kansas Department of Transportation is facing a 100-percent turnover rate for entry-level operators, KWCH12-TV reports.

KDOT says they didn’t always have problems filling operator positions, but workers are now finding better opportunities and pay outside in the private sector, the TV station reports.

“We bring them in, we train them, they get a CDL (commercial driver’s license) and then they’re out the door with a company that pays more – and that’s a challenge for us,” Tom Hein with KDOT’s Wichita office tells the station.

Operators of commercial vehicles and heavy equipment are needed badly throughout the construction industry, whether its for DOTs or private contractors. It’s part of a worsening labor shortage nationwide.

The State of Kansas needs 1,200 operators, but it only has half of those positions filled. Hein says over a two-year period, almost every employee in the position ends up leaving, according to the report.

“People don’t stay at jobs as long as they used to although we do have some in KDOT who have been 30 and 40 years that’s a rarity now,” he says.

Russell Dempsey, the lead instructor for Kansas-based White Line CDL Training, which trains future operators, says in the report that the average private sector pay is around $50,000 a year.

But KDOT starts them out at a little more than half of that amount, at about $27,000. He also notes that better communication with KDOT could help with recruiting.