American Society of Highway Engineers
Local Sections
Consultants and Suppliers
Job Bank
Organizational Links
Section Operating Manual
2000-2003 Strategic Plan
ASHE National Conference
Scanner Newsletter
Officers and Directors
Contact ASHE
Scanner Newsletter  

Workforce Development Initiative

Finding quality employees is becoming a critical issue in the highway design and construction industry throughout the United States. Members of ASHE-Altoona Section agree and have determined that a "gap" exists between jobs that are available in the region and the available pool of potential applicants who have the skills required to obtain transportation-related jobs. How can the "gap" be bridged? To address this issue locally, the ASHE-Altoona Section has undertaken a public/private sector workforce development initiative.

The Education Committee will be targeting local engineering consulting firms, contractors, PENNDOT, and municipal governments to develop a needs assessment. The purpose of the needs assessment is to determine the extent of labor pool/jobs available "gap." The results of the needs assessment will help decide future courses of action by the committee. The information also will be used to request assistance from other workforce development efforts and to develop curriculum and training programs with local educational institutions.

At the regular section meeting on September 19, 2001, a workforce development panel discussion was held. Panel members included PENNDOT District Engineer Earl Nelderhiser, PE, the Executive Director of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce and the Workforce Development Coordinator of the Altoona-Blair County Development Corporation. ASHE members heard a lively discussion on the current and future educational needs of not only the transportation industry, but also other sectors of the economy. The panel concluded that a skilled workforce and economic development are inseparable and that Pennsylvania, as a whole, is demonstrating a strong commitment to workforce development.

How can the American Society of Highway Engineers play a role in the workforce development initiative? The Altoona Section's Education Committee, in addition to its ongoing needs assessment, will undertake an immediate action program to get involved. The workforce development program will have three phases.

Phase I - Targeting grade school students and making them aware of the Transportation Industry.

Phase II - Following up with the high school students.

Phase III - Developing a curriculum and training programs with local educational institutions.

Phase I will focus on giving students a simple task related to the transportation field, hence making them aware of what the transportation industry involves. Phase II will target high school students at all directions. It will include design and construction-related tasks and allow them to gain a hands-on perspective of various jobs in the transportation industry. Phase III will involve developing a curriculum and training programs to educate the high school graduates who are interested in a technical field, as well as training local laborers to have the specific skill-set needed by highway industry employers.

We hope to implement Phase I by the Fall of 2002, beginning with the local schools. We hope that once we get the bugs worked out and develop a program that sparks the interest of the students, this program will expand to a national level.

Sandy Ivory, a member of the Altoona Section and incoming ASHE National President, attends the workforce development meetings and, in turn, keeps the ASHE National Board members informed on the program's progress. When the focus for the role of the ASHE-Altoona Section is defined, she hopes to have National adopt program guidelines for other interested ASHE Sections.

Back to the Top