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3Organizations are a human enterprise and their highest purpose is to make the strengths of people effective and their weaknesses irrelevant. Peter Drucker INTRODUCTION American public service is in its third era of reform, and public service at all levels of governmentâstate, local, and federalâ is in the midst of profound change. From the founding of the republic until the late 1880s, government human resources policies were based on the spoils system. Those in power got to choose those who were employed, regardless of talent or capa- bility. The spoils system worked initially, but then faltered. Because government services were not being done as U.S. cit- izens wanted, there was a demand for change. This resulted in a reform movement that ushered in the concept of a merit-based civil service. Recruitment and retention of employees was based on qualifications and the ability to pass written and oral examinations. This system worked well for nearly a century, and then it too became obsolete. Driven primarily by the intro- duction of technology into every level of society, the work to be done and the ways to accomplish work began to change dramatically. Once again, U.S. citizens began to demand a dif- ferent type and level of service from all levels of government. It is against this dynamic background that this synthesisâ examining the requirements for managing training programs for state departments of transportation (DOTs) in the first quar- ter of the 21st centuryâwas prepared. The trends dictating change are now clearly identified. In its recently completed multiyear, five-volume study of the â21st Century Manager,â the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) noted the following trends affecting both the workplace and the workforce (The 21st Century Manager 2004): â¢ Technical complexityâIncreasing technical complexity in the workplace is driving the need for educated talent, particularly scientific, engineering, and information tech- nology (IT) personnel. â¢ Information technologyâExpanding IT capabilities are affecting hardware systems, work processes, and the types and numbers of people in the workforce. â¢ Workforce flexibilityâIT is providing unprecedented workplace flexibilities, such as telecommuting, facili- tating a more efficient workforce distribution. People management approaches must accommodate the virtual workforce. â¢ Workforce mobilityâIncreased competition and the move toward self-managed retirement funds (particu- larly with a highly educated workforce) will threaten the financial ties that employees have with their employers. Recruitment strategies must be adapted to the appropri- ate candidate pools. â¢ GlobalizationâBusiness, production, economies, and workforces are becoming more multinational. As a result, managers (and organizations) confront increasing demands to compete, retain, and manage talent well. Other factors that affect the workforce and the workplace are: â¢ Redefinition of government functionsâSince the late 1970s the division of functions between government and private-sector organizations has been changing, intro- ducing a level of contracting out of services heretofore unseen in state, local, and federal levels of government. â¢ Employees as an assetâOne of the most important results of all of the reexamination of work and how it should be accomplished is that employees are now rec- ognized as an asset. An asset is commonly defined as a âthing, person, or quality of valueâ and worth further investment to preserve or enhance the value. This fun- damental change in thinking has profound implications for training and development programs in both public and private organizations. â¢ DiversityâThe workforce is becoming increasingly diverse, with women and minorities entering the work- force in record numbers. â¢ Retirement of the âBaby BoomersââThe largest gen- erational labor pool the United States has ever had is approaching retirement. Within 15 years most of this group will be either totally or partially out of the work- force. â¢ Shrinking labor supplyâSimilar to many other nations in the developed world, the U.S. birth rate is falling, result- ing in slower growth in current and future labor pools. â¢ Multigenerational workforceâFor the first time in U.S. history, public and private organizations have four or more generations of workers in the workforce. Although these workers share some common characteristics, there are also substantial differences in values, work experi- ence, work habits, and expectations between and among the different generations. CHAPTER ONE CHALLENGE OF MAINTAINING A KNOWLEDGEABLE WORKFORCE
â¢ Citizensâ demand for performanceâDriven by tech- nology, which makes instant and constant communica- tions possible, U.S. citizens expect a quality, level, ease, and speed of service that was unthinkable even 15 to 20 years ago. In addition, individuals, especially at the state and local level, are demanding a greater voice in governmental decisions and an ever greater return on their investment of tax dollars, which in turn requires public organizations to examine their work processes, assess their organizational and employee performance, and measure that performance against publicly articu- lated qualitative and quantitative standards. The imme- diacy of access substantially reduces the margin of error that individuals are willing to accept. In its 2004 white paper, The Human Capital Challenge, the American Society for Training and Developmentâs (ASTD) Public Policy Council Chair Vincent J. Serritella noted that, Now more than ever, the success of public and private organiza- tions in the United States and throughout the world depends on the knowledge and capabilities of their employees. . . . The set of tasks formerly known as human resource services is now cast as a value chain of integrated processes and functions that are strategically positioned to help the organization compete. . . . Responding to the human capital challenge means more than just figuring out how to recruit and retain top talent. Organizations also need to address other obstacles to human capital develop- ment and management, including . . . (the) failure to align human performance practices, including compensation, work design, training, and performance management . . . with the organiza- tionâs strategic goals, objectives, and outcomes. State DOTs are affected by all of these trends. To meet the changing environment and the citizen demands for service, state DOTs must recruit a talented, knowledgeable workforce. Of equal importance, they must retain this talent and ensure that their knowledge and competence is both maintained and increased. Many of todayâs employees, and certainly those who will be joining the workforce over the next 15 to 20 years, are products of the knowledge economy, which can be defined as an economy characterized by the recognition of knowledge as a source of competitiveness; the increasing importance of sci- ence, research, technology, and innovation in knowledge cre- ation; and the use of computers and the Internet to generate, share, and apply knowledge (see www.innovation.sa.gov.au/ sti/a8_publish/modules/publish/content.asp).] They understand the power of knowledge and the need to keep that knowledge current. This understanding is found in all sectors and in all levels of the workforce. The presence or absence of well- thought-out and executed employee training and development programs is a significant factor contributing to the success or failure of recruitment and retention programs in both the pub- lic and the private sector. In its most recent survey of college graduates, published in May 2005, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) identified appropriate training and development opportunities as an important factor influencing job choices of recent, current, and future college graduates (see http://www.naceweb.org/). 4 State DOTs are well aware of these issues. A review of recent TRB publications reveals a focus on a variety of human capital issues related to attracting and retaining a well-qualified workforce. For example, its 2003 publication, The Workforce Challenge: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Qualified Workers for Transportation and Transit Agencies stated: The Committee on Future Surface Transportation Agency Human Resources Needs was convened by the Transportation Research Board to determine how these agencies can reorient their human resources efforts over the next two decades in order to respond to future changes in roles and responsibilities within their organiza- tions. . . . The intent of this study . . . (is to) examine what is needed for transportation agencies to strategically alter key human resource activitiesârecruiting, training and retaining, and succes- sion managementâ . . . to enable these agencies to continue to meet emerging workforce challenges and adjust to labor market realities (The Workforce Challenge . . .2003, pp. 1â2). That same year, TRB published NCHRP Synthesis of Highway Practice 323: Recruiting and Retaining Individuals in State Transportation Agencies. This report observed that: Employees are the most valuable resource of any organization. Correspondingly, the issues of recruitment and retention at the professional level have become two of the most challenging that transportation professionals are facing in the 21st century. . . . It is vital that these issues be addressed if state departments of transportation . . . are to deliver the transportation systems needed to sustain the economic and mobility needs of our nation (Warne 2003, p. 1). The report goes on to say that: Workforce issues are at the forefront of discussions occurring in corporate America and within the ranks of public agencies. Pub- lic and private sector organizations are struggling to fill their ranks with individuals who possess the right sets of skills to deliver the products and services to their customers. . . . .There are probably very few industries where workforce concerns are more acute than in the transportation industry. Challenges cross all modes, encom- pass virtually all skill sets, and appear to be more difficult to address with each passing year (Warne 2003, p. 3). Also, in 2003, TCRP Synthesis of Transit Practice 47: Corporate Culture as the Driver of Transit Leadership Prac- tices was published, and concluded that: The transit industry is facing an ever changing work force, more sophisticated technology, a shifting economy, and the most diverse population to date. In this highly competitive work envi- ronment, it is essential to attract, develop, and retain strong leadership (Davis 2003, p. 1). PROJECT SCOPE AND OBJECTIVES FHWA DOTs and a variety of other transportation organiza- tions understand the value of a robust and flexible training and development program. AASHTO, the National Highway Institute (NHI), and other similar entities have identified training and development as a significant tool to ensure that state DOTs can attract and retain a well-qualified workforce.
5For example, AASHTOâs strategic plan Goal 4, Objective D4, states that it will Develop tools to assist states in addressing issues of workforce recruitment, retention, succession planning, and in-service train- ing. Provide state DOTs with expertise and resource materials to help them make effective decisions regarding a variety of per- sonnel recruitment and development issues. An understanding of the critical importance of training and development activities within state DOTs prompted this synthesis study. This synthesis also focuses on the ability of state DOTs to attract, retain, and manage the talents of the workforce. In defining the project, the topic panel noted that â[a] well-trained, multi-disciplined workforce is necessary to ensure the effective and efficient development, delivery, and management of the nationâs transportation system. Efficient and timely training and professional development efforts will allow agencies and their partners to take full advantage of technological innovation, maximize workforce productivity, and ensure the efficient use of limited resources. . . .â This synthesis will focus on the processes, policies, and practices needed to ensure that agency training and devel- opment programs have the infrastructure required to deliver training and development programs that support a high-performance organization. This report was designed to focus not on specific training needs or courses or competencies, but on the program com- ponents required to have a sound set of policies, processes, and procedures for planning, developing, implementing, funding, and evaluating state DOT training, development, and education programs. Therefore, this synthesis examines the requirements for strategic planning, strategic human capital and workforce planning, the mechanisms to identify competencies needed in the workforce, and the degree to which the workforce has those competencies, as well as the ability to fund and execute a viable training, development, and education program that ultimately provides and pre- pares a workforce to accomplish the work of the organiza- tion successfully. It also reflects an understanding that the raison dâetre for training programs has changed. As with other human capital programs, training programs in state DOTs have no intrinsic value in and of themselves. Their value is in direct proportion to the programâs ability to enhance the workforce capability to achieve the organiza- tionâs strategic goals and outcomes. Absent this impact, training, development, and education programs make no âvalue addedâ contribution and are, therefore, unlikely to be able to compete successfully for the shrinking pool of avail- able public dollars. STUDY PROCEDURES For this study, a review of the pertinent literature was under- taken. It soon became apparent that the literature review had to be broadly defined to include the changing nature of public service, of work, and of working relationships, both within transportation organizations, as well as between and among transportation organizations, other transportation- related entities, and the private sector. The literature review also examined the more traditional components of training, development, and education programs. The literature review is accompanied by a discussion and analysis of the information provided by the survey results from a questionnaire sent to the training directors of each of the 50 state DOTs. Initially, 16 responded. Ultimately, 24 states provided input either through the survey or by means of detailed interviews and discussions about the topics cov- ered in the survey. The synthesis is further enriched by the results of the annual Training Directors conference, held in Natchez, Mississippi, in October 2005. The majority of the 2005 conference topics were directly related to issues being examined in the survey specifically and the study more gen- erally. In addition, interviews with a variety of public and private sector thought leaders in public administration, trans- portation and training, development, and education were undertaken. Thought leaders are individuals recognized by their peers as having creative and innovative ideas to solve current, and possibly future, issues and problems. The in- sights of these experts are integrated into the synthesis. The appendices provide additional information for training orga- nizations in state DOTs. ORGANIZATION OF SYNTHESIS REPORT The synthesis report has five chapters. Chapter one provides background on the issues related to the need for robust training, education, and development programs; the administrative infrastructure to sustain robust programs; a discussion of the study scope and procedures; and the organization of the synthesis report. Chapter two presents the results of the literature review. It identifies both the more common viewpoints about conditions in the labor force, the public sector, and the private sector that affect training and development programs generally and those in state DOTs specifically. This chapter also discusses the lit- erature findings on infrastructure elements, including strate- gic planning, needs assessment, competency identification and development, funding, partnerships, technology, evalua- tion, and other related topics. Chapter three summarizes the results of the survey of state DOTs and the information shared at the 2005 Training Direc- tors Conference. Chapter four contains a discussion of successful practices from both industry and government, and insights acquired from thought leader interviews.
Chapter five summarizes the conclusions to be drawn from the literature review, the agency questionnaire results, the 2005 Training Directors Conference, the thought leader interviews, and industry practices. A bibliography provides a detailed list of references, including articles, books, and reports that will assist in keeping state DOT training organizations well informed for years to come about the evaluation of critical components of training program analysis, development, delivery, and evaluation. 6 Appendix A contains the survey questionnaire and detailed survey results. Appendix B lists the state DOTs that participated in the survey and the 2005 Training Directors conference. These individuals are sources of expert advice and assistance to colleagues. Appendix C contains critical excerpts from the ASTDâs 2005 State of the Industry Report, which provides one of the definitive analyses about major trends and issues in training and development. Appendix D contains detailed information on the exhaustive competency study prepared by ASTD and Appendix E cites additional resources provided by various organizations.