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The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded eight state departments of transportation roughly $3 million in grants for highway-related job training through the Ladders of Opportunity Initiative On-The-Job Training/Supportive Service.
States DOTs receiving grants include California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The grants support DOT training programs for highway contractors, apprentices and trainees and are designed to encourage “strategic partnerships” between educational institutions, public workforce investment systems and labor groups “to support training opportunities for minorities and women in skilled and semi-skilled crafts.”
“Providing individuals with the job training opportunities they need is critical to keeping our highway system up and running,” says Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx. “Training programs like these create opportunities for workers in the short-term, and ensure that the next generation is ready for the challenges that will face America’s transportation system in the years ahead.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates more than half of current highway construction workers are more than 45 years old. It expects more than 500,000 jobs to be available in the next 10 years due to retirement of these workers, “separation” and growth in the need for these workers.
“The grants focus specifically on supporting innovative, nationally and regionally significant highway construction workforce development programs that target specific workforce needs across the country and build ladders of opportunity to the middle class for American workers,” the department says.
“On-the-job training along with other strategies reflected in these awards can connect people who need jobs with job opportunities,” says FHWA Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “By giving people the specialized training our transportation system needs, we can ensure that our transportation system remains safe and efficient for decades to come.”
Details of the grants include:
California Department of Transportation, $400,000
Through a partnership between California State University-Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Trade-Tech Community College, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Long Beach and Los Angeles Workforce Investment Systems, these funds will help Caltrans provide career/college counseling and placement support for internships and jobs in highway construction or engineering.
Colorado Department of Transportation, $400,000
These funds will provide training to hundreds of workers to address a skills gap that directly affects Central 70, the state’s largest highway construction project which, at peak, will require an estimated 4,000 employees.
Florida Department of Transportation, $400,000
FDOT will use these funds to create a “Preparatory Institute” to provide skills training to unemployed or underemployed workers that will lead to journey-level careers in the highway construction industry and address a workforce need for approximately 5,000 jobs statewide in the next decade.
Idaho Transportation Department, $198,076
This funding will provide five weeks of training for heavy equipment operators and other skilled personnel to address identified statewide need.
Missouri Department of Transportation, $400,000
These funds will enable MoDOT to address a statewide shortage of carpenters and laborers, by providing academic support, career services and training for CPR/First-Aid, OSHA-10 and other construction skills.
Montana Department of Transportation, $400,000
These funds will be used to help MDOT and Blackfeet Community College Workforce Highway Construction Training Project train 45 members of the Blackfeet Reservation in heavy equipment operations and flagging to meet the demand for workers on highway construction projects on the Blackfeet Reservation.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, $398,750
To address a growing workforce shortage, these funds will be used to develop an online platform to improve highway construction worker recruitment and retention among women, minorities and disadvantaged people.
Virginia Department of Transportation, $400,000
This funding will provide OJT trainees with hands-on and classroom instruction regarding asphalt paving and technologies in Virginia community colleges to address a statewide worker shortage.