Cover Image

Not for Sale



View/Hide Left Panel
Click for next page ( 82


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 81
Action Plan for Recommendation #3 Implement Student-Worker Internship Program with a Job Rotational Component Hyperlink to Exhibit 28: Overview of Strategic SOM Workforce Recommendations by Career Stage 81

OCR for page 81
RECOMMENDATION #3 Implement Student-Worker Internship Program with a Job Rotational Component Description: Agencies could implement student- Recommendation Highlights worker internship programs that allow for the option to rotate jobs. Such programs allow DOTs to target Target Career Stage: Community universities with students in specific programs and offer colleges, four-year colleges, graduate them paid positions while in school at lower rates than programs, and Transportation Research Centers (TRC) typical employees. Rotational job programs provide Will help with Attraction, Recruitment, students with the opportunity to work in more than one Retention, and Development job over the course of their involvement in the Estimated Time to Implement: 7 months program. This gives them the opportunity to experience to 1 year different jobs, learn about different functions, Mutually beneficial approach to experience SOM-related duties from multiple introduce college students to SOM perspectives, and work on a variety of different occupations and variety of different projects. Within each rotation, students could be duties and tasks assigned a mentor who is responsible for supervising Will increase number of college the student and serving as a point of contact for any educated applicants to SOM jobs with issues that may arise. These programs are attractive to actual work experience students who are looking for real-world experience as Will reduce turnover because new hires well as income, and provide agencies with a means to will have job experience prior to being have a presence on college campuses and develop a hired full-time pipeline for talent. The job rotation component provides students with an opportunity to try different kinds of work, increasing the chances they will find a job they like at the agency and also increasing the chances they will stay if hired, given their previous exposure to the actual job duties. Rationale for Recommendation: DOTs perceive these programs as having a high benefit-cost ratio and showing results in an observable time period. Such programs function as a mutually beneficial way to introduce college students to SOM occupations and a variety of different duties and tasks, while providing the training and orientation to make entry-level hires more useful, longstanding employees. Our findings in earlier phases of this project indicated that despite the economic downturn, DOTs remain concerned about a looming shortage of employees and experienced staff to promote as Baby Boomers near retirement. Many interviewees indicated that their agency's workforce is mainly composed of long-tenured employees, most of who are over the age of 40, and nearing their retirement. Interviewees also noted their agency's struggles and in some cases minimal success in recruiting and retaining their desired number of younger employees, especially before the economic downturn. While hiring is down and recruits are staying longer now, this workforce challenge is a concern for state DOTs because it threatens a significant loss of institutional knowledge. As a result, it is critical that DOTs create programs that attract, recruit, and retain qualified workers, ideally those who are already trained and prepared to replace the retiring workers. However, as suggested by interviewees, the training students receive from colleges and universities is often insufficient to prepare for a career in SOM. In addition, our research indicates that SOM is a relatively new focus for DOTs. Given that SOM is a new field to many people and 82

OCR for page 81
that colleges and universities do not address many of the important aspects at this time, a rotational job program for students would expose and train them at a pivotal point in their academic studies, and perhaps attract them to the interesting and important work in SOM-related professions within the DOT. RELEVANT POSITIONS 83

OCR for page 81
TARGET AUDIENCES Source of Initiation Return on Investment Targeted Audience(s) Industry 0-2 years Primary: University career centers and faculty who provide Agency 3-5 years career advisement in degree 6+ years programs related to SOM fields. Primary Human Resource Focus Estimated Time to Secondary: Students. Attraction Implement May also be applicable to Recruitment 0-3 months continuing education programs, including community colleges and Retention 3-6 months graduate schools. Development 7 months-1 year More than 1 year Implementation Level National Action Lead(s) Regional Agency HR Director/Manager State IMPLEMENTATION PLAN Steps to Implement 1. Assemble Project Team. Assemble agency project team, including HR personnel and project managers. 2. Determine Positions for Program and Competencies for Success. Meet with project managers to identify a variety of positions and work functions to be included in the program. During these meetings, HR personnel should also identify the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) and competencies to look for in applicants. 3. Determine Number of Openings. Determine the number of position openings available based on budget and amount of work to be done. Identify employees interested in serving as mentors who are capable of supervising and being a point of contact for the student who rotates through each opening. It may be helpful to develop a mentor training workshop to debrief employees on the responsibilities and expectations of mentors. Also, determine the duration of time students will spend in a position before rotating to another. Make a comparison of full- time equivalent need to student availability and how rotated positions may supplement this need. 4. Select Incentive Structure. Select an incentive structure to apply to the program (It might be helpful to review the agency and departments budget). Below are examples of four different incentive structures: a. Paid Structure--Agency pays the student while they work, similar to an internship program. 84

OCR for page 81
b. Academic Credit Structure--Agency partners with nearby colleges to support the program, which allows students enrolled in specific courses the opportunity to receive academic credit for successful completion and a strong performance evaluation. The agency does not pay the students while they work. c. Partial Scholarship Structure--Agency does not pay the student while they work, but after completion of the program and a strong performance evaluation the student can apply for a scholarship to help pay for the upcoming college year. The student is capable of having the scholarship available to them for the remainder of their college years, if they return to the program each summer. d. Full Scholarship Structure--Agency does not pay the student while they work, but after completion of the program and a strong performance evaluation the student can apply for a scholarship to help pay for the upcoming college year. 5. Develop Job Descriptions. Develop job descriptions for student-worker positions including requirements, duties, required knowledge, skills, and abilities. 6. Recruit at Local Colleges and Universities. Develop relationships with local college and university career centers, and advertise for the positions at these schools. Contact faculty directly for positions that target within a specific discipline, as these faculty members may be able to recommend top-performing students. Agencies might receive better reception from colleges that have already developed Cooperative Education Programs. University Transportation Centers (UTCs) may also be another good source to target for candidates. 7. Develop Hiring Process. Develop a process for choosing students if demand exceeds number of available positions. May look at GPA, letters of recommendation, or conduct interviews. 8. Determine Application Deadlines and Position Start Dates. 9. Host an Orientation. Host an orientation meeting on the first day of the program to introduce students to the program and introduce them to their first mentor/supervisor. An orientation also provides a good opportunity for the student and mentor to discuss their interests, expectations, and goals for their time in the position before they rotate to the next position. This meeting is important because it allows the mentor to learn about the student's experience so he/she can be placed on projects and be responsible for tasks that meet their knowledge, skills, and abilities. 10. Gather Feedback. Collect feedback from students after the program end date about which experiences they found most beneficial and interesting. Also, provide students with constructive feedback on their performance. 85

OCR for page 81
COMMUNICATIONS PLAN Communication/Outreach Strategies Identify four-year colleges nearby that are willing to partner with the agency. Develop marketing materials such as: Brochure with a synopsis of the program, along with some of its accomplishments and statistics on students who enrolled and began their career. Included in this synopsis should also be job descriptions based on the type of work students should expect to be exposed to and specific competencies applicable to the position. Webpage with detailed information on the agency and the program. Short video-vignettes with student testimonials to be placed on the website and disseminated through other social media sites targeting students. Information card/flyer with program's name and website. Radio spots. Web banner/poster to disseminate through colleges/career centers' websites, Facebook, and other websites targeted to the students. Newspaper/magazine advertisements. Career day participation of current student workers. Attend college career/recruitment fairs and have the printed material to disseminate as well as a video screen displaying vignettes showing examples of students performing different types of SOM-related work in a DOT. Gather e-mail addresses to follow-up with students and send additional information. Process for Obtaining Buy-In Provide data that highlight the impact of program, and tie them to specific strategic goals the agency has regarding recruitment and retention targets. Develop a story on the unique characteristics of the program and its advantages for students, employers, universities, and the workforce in general. Identify media contacts interested in covering the story. Obtain case studies from other agencies that have implemented similar programs (i.e., internship programs, apprentice programs, job rotational programs). Emphasize benefits such as a stronger presence in the community, increased employee satisfaction, and better employee job fit. Set-up meetings at career centers and do presentations at local universities to talk about the benefits for universities to participate in a student-worker program with a DOT. Develop and describe specific goals and anticipated results for the program. If implemented, monitor success of moving student workers into full-time positions post- graduation to demonstrate success or identify program weaknesses. 86

OCR for page 81
USEFUL INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL RESOURCES To Implement Practice Compile metrics indicating success for similar programs at DOTs, such as increases in applications and the number of positions filled with employees with a college degree. Use job descriptions and input from managers on the positions and work functions that would be best for student workers. Collect feedback from students on which positions and job functions they found most beneficial to their career and which experiences they enjoyed most in general. Develop contacts at local universities particularly at career centers. To Sustain Practice Constantly look to improve the program over time based on feedback from students and career centers. Collect feedback upon the students' completion of the program. This feedback may be collected in a meeting between HR personnel and the student, similar to that of an exit interview, or it may be conducted via paper or e-mail survey. It is important that the feedback be reviewed and incorporated into next year's program. A common weakness is that information is collected, but additional time is not taken to review and absorb what has been provided. Compile evidence the program is providing a return on the investment (ROI). For example, the agency may calculate: increases in program applicants from year to year, length of tenure for employees who began as student-workers vs. employees recruited in other ways, money saved due to reduction in turnover, increases in qualified applications received, retention numbers over specific periods of time, and increases in new hire performance. These measures to calculate ROI are further described below. Annual Increase in Program Applicants--shows an increase in student awareness and interest of SOM positions. Successful efforts to use the program to reach out to college students and to market the program to colleges will have a significant impact on the program's ability to increase applicants from year to year. Length of Tenure for Employees (Student-Workers vs. Others)--shows the program's success in recruiting and retaining qualified SOM employees, compared to other recruitment efforts. Students who participate in the program as a resource to explore SOM as a career may feel an extra commitment to the agency because of the value they received from the program. Money Saved from Decreased Turnover--shows the monetary value of the program in retaining SOM employees. Again, students who participate in the program as a resource to explore SOM as a career may feel an extra commitment to the agency because of the value they received from the program. Increase in Qualified Applicants--shows the program's ability to raise awareness of SOM while promoting SOM as a viable career and attracting qualified students interested in 87

OCR for page 81
pursuing a job within SOM. Again, successful efforts to use the program to reach out to college students and to market the program to colleges will have a significant impact on the program's ability to increase qualified applicants. Increase in New-Hire Performance--shows the program's ability in preparing students for a successful career in SOM. The program's ability to provide students with valuable hands-on experiences and exposure to working on a team and better understanding of the work processes (i.e., operations) that occur in SOM are essential to the program's success in increasing new-hire performance. EXAMPLES OF EFFECTIVE PROGRAMS Mn/DOT Seeds Program. Minnesota Department of Transportation's (Mn/DOT) program, called Seeds, is an approach to growing talent in-state, as an alternative to out-of state recruiting. The program began with the intent to find good students, connect them with on-the-job learning opportunities, and build them into well-qualified potential job candidates. The program has a special focus on increasing ethnic, gender, and economic diversity among the job classes in which Mn/DOT is hiring. The Seeds program has a 72% placement rate, which Mn/DOT considers a worthwhile investment. Mn/DOT has expanded from potential engineers to other employment classes, including the technicians that compose 50% of the agency's workforce. Mn/DOT has tried to make sure they have a Seeds presence, such as Seeds students, in every part of the department; leaders have found that to be the best way to get the word out about the program. Mn/DOT has also supported program implementation through use of its community liaison program, supervisor training, mentoring support, and an annual workshop for Seeds participants and managers. Mn/DOT has developed Seeds program guidelines and presentations, which can be shared with other state DOTs. Mn/DOT has measured success in the number of permanent hires the agency has made out of the Seeds program. The agency also credits a percent of its total diversity, now at 25%, to the achievements of the Seeds program. Mn/DOT has devoted 1.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff and about $500,000 annually to implementing Seeds, which accommodated 70 students this past year and trains about 50 students in an average year. The program manager handles the mentoring program and helps with performance reviews for the students. Part of the success of the program is the investment in the students throughout their careers, such as mentoring and shepherding to help the student navigate the DOT and prepare for a DOT career. Five disabled candidates have been hired in the past year as an outgrowth of the program. Finally, in addition, the program boasts an outstanding placement rate and higher Grade Point Averages (GPAs) and levels of supervisor satisfaction than standard hiring methods and hires. Contact Information: Denise Hals, Seeds Program Manager, 651-366-3379, denise.hals@state.mn.us 88

OCR for page 81
ODOT College Internship Program. Oregon Department of Transportation's (ODOT) College Internship Program is one of the largest in Oregon. ODOT's internship program was initially designed to introduce interested engineering students to the agency and enable them to get hands-on experience on actual projects, which in turn helps interns determine what aspects of engineering they like most and want to pursue. ODOT invested in marketing of the program and advertised the opportunity as one where interns could work on real projects with incredibly smart and creative people. Each year, the initial step in implementing the internship program is the collection of internship projects and positions from various managers around the state within the highway division. These managers complete a summary of the project and intended outcomes, and identify measurable activities and goals. Available internships and locations are posted online. Then the ODOT HR personnel and interested managers and specialists perform a nationwide, in-person recruiting effort at colleges and work fairs in the West, South, and Midwest. ODOT traditionally offers between 65 and 70 internship opportunities each summer, with over 200 highly qualified engineering students applying each year. The requirements are rigorous, so quality stays high. Interns must maintain a GPA of over 3.5, present references from two professors, and answer essay questions on their reasons for interning and what they expect to gain from their internship. ODOT HR implements an interview process with those applicants who qualify after the first hurdle. Based on these conversations and submittal records, HR works with the managers to understand what type of candidate and qualifications they are seeking. HR then chooses four to five candidates and presents these candidates to the managers. This program has expanded to include not only recruitment of interested engineers, but also recruiting heavy equipment operators and mechanics and potential candidates with backgrounds in Information Systems. ODOT is now also doing some recruiting for Right-of-Way (ROW) and geotechnical positions and is continuing to expand its internship program to cover other areas, such as accounting and finance. ODOT sees student interns as their greatest marketing tool, especially when these students return to their schools and talk with other students about the agency. ODOT further supports the program with an offsite orientation and mid-summer engineering conference for networking and the sharing of projects and lessons learned. The program also feeds ODOT's Graduate Engineer program, a rotation program available to both internal staff and recent graduates. In addition to paying the salaries of 1.5 full time employees, ODOT spends money each year to sustain the internship program's success. The agency budgets around $150,000 to $200,000 per year for the program's marketing and national outreach efforts. The agency also hosts "engineering days" which cost $20,000 to $30,000 per day and draw the community of interns and agency staff together in joint learning. This includes the costs associated with renting a center to host the event in an offsite location. The internship program provides students with the opportunity to obtain valuable hands-on experience and training as they work with other employees on large, real-world projects. Through students' word-of-mouth and communication about the program, ODOT has been able to successfully brand itself as one of the leading DOTs and places to work. Contact Information: Daniel Killam, HR Manager, 503-378-6796, daniel.killam@odot.state.or.us 89

OCR for page 81
PennDOT Civil Engineer Training (CET) Program. PennDOT has created the Civil Engineer Training (CET) program to identify, recruit, and retain civil engineers by allowing program participants to gain 1 year of work experience rotating through the phases of civil engineering (CE) work at PennDOT. CET participants, or CETs, are inducted into a class of 25- 35 trainees; each trainee must pass department tests and go through orientation and training programs to become acclimated to their work with PennDOT before they begin their year-long rotation. After they complete all the requirements associated with their 12 months of training and job rotations, the candidate becomes eligible for full-time permanent status as a Civil Engineer with PennDOT. The CET program equips candidates with a supervisor, training coordinator, and a mentor to familiarize them with PennDOT and guide their career development. PennDOT created a manual for the CET program discussing the roles and responsibilities of the CET, the work phases CETs will experience (e.g., the planning and programming phase, design phase), the training courses CETs will take and activities in which they will participate, and evaluation forms for CETs to track their own progress and evaluate the CET program. Additionally, PennDOT requires CETs to maintain a daily log of activities in the form of a journal, which serves as a record for PennDOT and for the trainee to track his or her progress. The CET program was implemented by the Workforce Division of PennDOT. The Workforce Division brought subject matter experts (SMEs) together from various DOT disciplines to help create the CET manual, which gets distributed to all trainees. PennDOT's Workforce Division also partnered with the Civil Service Commission to streamline the CET application process, which can otherwise be cumbersome, and to ensure the validity of the CET entrance exam. PennDOT communicates the practice to employees and to college students, the target audience of the CET program, through learning institutions; the PennDOT website; and internally through PennDOT's intranet site, job fairs, and the Civil Service Office in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. All steps of implementing the CET program have been performed internally, and thus the only cost to PennDOT has been in employee time and resources. To assess the success of the CET program, PennDOT uses a number of measures: 1. Survey CETs and their supervisors for feedback; 2. Examine trainees' performance reviews at the end of each trainee job rotation; 3. Read CETs' journals; and 4. Examine CET completion rates of various markers in the CET program. Based on the feedback from the aforementioned methods, and on the increasing applicant pool and rising retention rates, PennDOT considers the CET program a success and credits the program with improving organizational performance. Contact Information: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Human Resources, 717-787-3803 90

OCR for page 81
ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES Alternative Approach 1 Rather than developing and organizing a student-worker program, DOTs may offer summer internships or allow students to shadow employees performing SOM-related duties. Although internships would also provide students with the opportunity to learn about SOM-related jobs, the students may have less time to learn about a variety of different jobs and would have less of an opportunity to earn income/incentives. The DOT also gains less familiarity with the students and potential hires than the more comprehensive programs outlined above. IMPACT Positive Outcomes of the Practice Increased numbers of college-educated, qualified applicants with actual job experience. Reduced attrition in new hires. Enhanced perception of the industry. More likely to attract stronger applicants, who then are more likely to recommend to friends and colleagues that they apply. Reduced turnover and training expenses. Saved money in training costs due to filtering out hires that are a poor fit. Improved performance of new hires. Greater awareness in the community and specifically at local colleges and universities of the different types of SOM work performed at DOTs, as well as the agency's services and mission. 91

OCR for page 81
CAUTIONARY CONSIDERATIONS There is a significant time and labor commitment from HR and employees involved in every element of this effort--the program would need to be developed, partnerships would need to be formed with local universities and colleges, and employees would need to take extra time to train and mentor the student-workers. Significant internal recruiting needs to occur and some supervisors need to see data/outcomes showing that supervisors tend to be more satisfied with recruits identified by HR through this process, than through other contacts they receive. There is a risk that student workers will view the program as an opportunity to earn income and experience while in school, but then look to work in another sector or industry after the DOT provides their training. If this occurs, agencies would still have benefited from employing the educated workers at lower wages than a full-time employee while they were in the program. Agencies could consider developing a contractual agreement with the students that provides additional incentive, but requires students to return to the agency upon obtaining their degree. There could be generational differences between younger and older interns, specifically concerning their level of experience. Agencies should consider age and experience when identifying the positions to be included in the rotational program. Mentors should also meet with their student worker at the beginning of the rotation to better understand their interests, expectations, and goals. 92