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22 Strategies to Attract and Retain a Capable Transportation Workforce 3.1 Workforce Challenges. Programs related to "Developing Future Applicant Skills" are typically designed to address challenges associated with developing capable and competent applicants in the workforce pipeline. These challenges should be carefully considered before selecting the program that would best fit the needs of your agency. For example, these are common challenges agencies face: Lack of Skilled Applicants. Organizations have noticed that fewer people are enrolling in engineering schools and trade schools as more students are selecting traditional four-year schools to continue their education. Furthermore, once enrolled at colleges and universities, students tend to focus on white collar or service-based industries (e.g. office or retail) instead of production-based industries, like construction or factory work. Failure to Invest in Talent Pipeline. When organizations sacrifice important programs during tough economic times that would otherwise help to build their talent pipeline (such as internship programs), they often struggle to find talent when needed. For example, during prosperous times many transportation organizations have internship programs for students that encourage students to join the organization while finishing school and allow the organization to prepare the students for future full-time employment once the students graduate. This type of program often builds commitment in younger workers. Agencies that invest in local student populations through these types of programs can quickly become known as a preferred employer, which results in increased attraction of candidates and improved retention of younger workers. On the contrary, employers who sacrifice these types of internship programs during times of budgetary constraint may find that their organizational stature declines and future recruiting becomes harder. 3.2 Industry Strategies. Researchers and program managers identify the following programmatic strategies when describing industry efforts to "Develop Future Applicant Skills" (see Exhibit 3-2). While these strategies represent the general direction of human resource departments across the nation, it is important that the specific needs of your agency are used to guide the development and implementation of a program in your agency. Exhibit 3-2 Industry Strategies: Developing Future Applicant Skills Strategy Strategy Description Conduct Internship/ Organizations sometimes conduct summer apprenticeship programs where Fellowship Programs students are paid for their services while developing skills. They also offer internships and part-time positions to potential applicants who are currently in school for a transportation-related field (such as civil engineering). Organizations benefit from the inexpensive but informed employee and the employee/intern benefits from the real world experience obtained. Potential applicants can develop relationships and professional experience in these situations that may convince these individuals to pursue job opportunities once they have graduated. Organizations such as the Transportation Construction Foundation and the Academy of Construction Technologies are helpful in supporting these types of programs. Partner with Schools for Agencies have begun partnering with schools to create centers, host Youth Development conferences, or deliver programs where students can gain hands-on experience in the industry jobs.