ITD, Idaho State University receive grant for training program
that will improve future workforce

ITD and educational partner Idaho State University will implement a new training program for under-represented populations following the award this week of a $190,577 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced ITD’s award as part of $5.9 million dollar program to support transportation-related training in 19 states and Washington, D.C.

The grants from the Federal Highway Administration’s on the Job Training/Supportive Services (OJT/SS) program, fund apprenticeships and training opportunities for under-represented or disadvantaged people pursuing careers in transportation, engineering or construction.

The primary goal of this partnership is to create a program that encourages more women and minorities to stay in the field of civil engineering, thus increasing the number of qualified women and minorities in the workforce pipeline.

To attract and retain women and minority students, ITD and ISU will use a multi-faceted approach that includes hands-on design project activities, field trips, guest lectures, job opportunity exploration, internships and financial incentives, explains Michelle George.

The activities will open the door to new possibilities and provide additional training to prepare the students to work in highway design and construction.

“We in HR are thrilled to have played a role in ensuring a skilled workforce for the transportation department through this partnership grant. This effort is one of many we are working on to create pipeline programs which are so important to the future of transportation,” said HRS Manager Mary Harker.

“We cannot be complacent – we know the workforce shortage will require us to be competitive and ensure adequate staff. This grant is just one more vehicle to provide us with a stable and competent workforce for the future. “

George, who specializes in Equal Employment Opportunity outreach, along with HRS staff team members Judy Davis, Marshall Sucher and Lori Millonzi and District 5 engineer Ed Bala developed the grant application.

ITD coordinated the application with ISU faculty members Arya Ebrahimpour, Ph.D., P.E, professor and interim chair of the College of Engineering and Bruce Savage, Ph.D., P.E., assistant professor of ISU, who will assist in delivering the specialized training.

“This is great news for ISU, our civil engineering students and ITD,”  Ebraimpour said. “We are very excited about this funding and look forward to working with you, your colleagues and ITD’s District 5 (Ed Bala and others) on this project.”

Created in 1998, the OJT/SS program promotes training opportunities for women and minorities who continue to be under-represented in the highway construction industry’s skilled and semi-skilled crafts, such as masonry and carpentry.

“America can never have enough well-trained employees to keep our transportation system running smoothly, LaHood said. “These grants will help put people back to work and train those who keep America moving.”

“Ensuring transportation workers are properly trained is an important part of economic recovery,” added Victor Mendez, Federal Highway Administrator. “These grants will help us build a skilled workforce to keep our nation’s highway system the best in the world.”

Published 8-27-2010