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19 The research team developed the survey portion of this project in parallel to and following the literature review. Previous surveys, as well as areas of research need and industry interest, informed the questions and content of the survey instrument. Pre-testing and NCHRP panel review further informed development. The concise online survey encouraged respondents from state DOTs and LTAPs to answer questions about agency background and context, the broader workforce planning and develop- ment environment, specific types of programs, funding, and social factors. The survey instrument and instructions for finding the full, anonymized cleaned dataset can be found in Appendix A. 3.1 Survey Method The survey was developed using the online platform Jotform, which allows for various ques- tion types and survey logic as well as secure data storage. The instrument is as concise as possible while collecting the relevant information needed for the study, taking about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Beyond the basic agency information, questions were optional, allowing respondents to complete only parts of the survey as desired. Answer options of âprefer not to respondâ and âI donât knowâ allow researchers to observe when respondents chose to answer a question even if they did not wish or were not able to answer it. The survey was pre-tested by colleagues of the research team and reviewed by the NCHRP Project 20-05 panel members, including state DOT workforce professionals. 3.1.1 Question Types and Content The survey includes multiple-choice, checkbox, and open-ended questions. The questions address the following: â¢ Basic information about the agency â¢ Definition and viewpoints of workforce planning and development â¢ Types of workforce planning and development tasks and programs and what type of agency offers each one â¢ Workforce program evaluation methods â¢ Successes and challenges in offered programming â¢ Program funding sources and amounts â¢ Resource availability and collaboration (monetary and otherwise) â¢ Contracting practices in workforce programming â¢ Future workforce needs C H A P T E R 3 Survey Development
20 Transportation Workforce Planning and Development Strategies â¢ Agency qualities/practices that affect the workforce â¢ Future plans and anticipated needs â¢ Additional comments 3.1.2 Target Population and Survey Deployment The data collected support the goals of the project to synthesize the current state of prac- tice associated with the implementation of surface transportation workforce planning and development strategies. In order to collect standard, comparable, significant data, the survey was deployed to state DOTs and to LTAPs. The email lists from the National Local Techni- cal Assistance Program Association and the National Transportation Training Directors were used to contact potential survey respondents. One contact from each of the 50 states (excluding Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico) was chosen from each list. A list of 100 recipients was compiled, resulting in one state DOT and one LTAP contact for each state. The federal LTAP program is available to any state that provides a 50% match in funds. All 50 states and Puerto Rico have an LTAP program, and the organizational structure takes one of two forms. Some LTAPs are housed at the state DOT, forming a combined LTAP/state DOT structure. In states where the LTAP is not at the state DOT, it is housed at a local university. As some states have combined state DOTs and LTAPs, the overall population for the survey fell to 94 recipients. With a population of 50 to 100 agencies to respond to the survey, the research team aimed to receive responses from more than 30% of the population and about 80% of states. A total of 58 responses were received, including 27 from LTAPs, 25 from state DOTs, and 6 from com- bined LTAPs/state DOTs. The five states that did not respond have LTAPs that are separate from the state DOTs. Therefore, the entire population for the survey of all LTAPs and state DOTs consists of 6 combined agencies and 44 state DOTs and 44 LTAPs, for a total population of 94 agencies, giving a 62% response rate. Responses were received from 45 states, providing responses from 90% of the states. The survey was deployed by email on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 3, 2018, with a cover letter as the email body. Respondents were given 3 weeks to complete the survey. Three follow-up emails (April 9, 17, and 27), extending the deadline to April 27, reminded respondents to complete the survey. Thirty-nine agencies responded by April 27, and the research team conducted phone calls in the following weeks to each agency that had not yet responded. The phone follow-ups significantly raised response rates. 3.1.3 Survey Biases The survey was developed to minimize survey bias. Potential biases are examined and addressed below and in context with survey result analysis. All questions were worded as clearly and objectively as possible to minimize response bias. The questions provided respondents with the option of indicating âprefer not to respondâ and/or âI donât knowâ to address item non-response bias in analysis. Agencies that have extensive or complicated organization or workforce development programs may have been more likely to experience survey fatigue and not complete the survey through to the end. Many responses, however, do include large amounts of information about involved programming and organi- zational structures, suggesting that the level of this bias is unknown and insights from various types of agencies are still included. Unit non-response may be likely to occur from agencies that do not see workforce develop- ment as important or as a priority, and therefore will not see the benefits to taking the time to complete the survey for research purposes. Pushing for and reaching a state response rate of 90% also helps quell concerns around non-response biases.
Survey Development 21 3.2 Survey Results: General Trends A total of 58 responses from 45 states spanning a diverse geographic area (as shown in Figure 3) constitute the full response set. Out of the 45 states responding, 13 states responded twice (states shown in cross-hatch), with one response from the LTAP and one from the state DOT in those states. A few respon- dents indicated different structures to the organization of the LTAP and DOT than indicated by experts in the field and the research teamâs investigations (Beale 2018). Because data in Figure 3 are self-reported, some states may be shown as having LTAPs housed outside of the DOT when they are in fact combined. Comparing responses from staff at the state DOT and staff at the LTAP in individual states showed that, in some states, responses varied to the point of contradic- tion and disagreement, while in other states responses showed similar views shared by LTAP and state DOT respondents about organizational roles, funding sources, and future needs. Table 1 shows the breakdown of response by agency type. The responses include a mix of organizational types, including 6 (10%) from combined state DOTs and LTAPs, 27 (47%) from LTAPs, and 25 (43%) from state DOTs. Figure 3. Map of survey respondent states and agency types. Agency Type Number of Respondents Total Number of This Type of Agency as Reported in the U.S. Combined LTAP and state DOT 6 6 State DOT not housing an LTAP 25 44 University-housed LTAP 27 44 Table 1. Survey respondents by self-reported agency type.
22 Transportation Workforce Planning and Development Strategies Workforce planning and development is not approached equally by every agency. Some pro- grams are cohesive while others are less connected, but together comprise what could be defined as the overall workforce development program. Figures 4 and 5 show agenciesâ responses to the questions about the cohesiveness of workforce development and planning. No agency noted workforce development as a completely disconnected set of activities, while a few LTAPs do have disconnected programming for workforce planning. Even given the low number of agencies citing a lack of distinction between planning and development and a less cohesive planning program, respondents reported a wide range of workforce planning activities conducted. Many LTAP respondents noted that they did not know or preferred not to answer, suggesting that the workforce planning questions may pertain differently to state DOTs and LTAPs. Figure 6 shows the types of workforce planning activities conducted by the state DOT respondents (31 respondents), including state DOTs that house LTAPs. Three state DOTS (and 17 LTAPs, not shown in Figure 6) noted that they do not track work- force planning, while many respondents noted working with labor/management to establish training tracks for employee advancement, identifying critical needs for position recruitment, and forecasting retirement of key positions. The high number of respondents identifying critical needs suggests that they are well equipped to develop other workforce development programs as they know what the future workforce needs may be. Programs that state DOTs provide to their employees vary, as shown in Figure 7. Twenty-four out of the 31 (77%) state DOT respondents said they offer courses for aca- demic credit, including tuition reimbursement. Many agencies also have apprenticeship/student learning initiatives, mentorship programs, and/or job shadowing/cross-training/job-rotation Cohesiveness Completely cohesive body Mostly cohesive body Similar amounts cohesive body and disconnected set of activities I donât know NA Figure 4. Cohesiveness of workforce development (âdoes your department/ center see workforce development more as a cohesive body of work or more as a disconnected set of activities?â).
Survey Development 23 Cohesiveness Completely cohesive body Mostly cohesive body Similar amounts cohesive body and disconnected set of activities I donât know Prefer not to answer NA Figure 5. Cohesiveness of workforce planning (âdoes your department/center see workforce planning more as a cohesive body of work or more as a disconnected set of activities?â). Figure 6. Answers to âdoes your organization conduct any of the following workforce planning activities?â (n = 31).
24 Transportation Workforce Planning and Development Strategies programs. Several agencies noted additional types of programs offered, such as various types of tuition or paid leave arrangements for further education. The large number of agencies offering multiple types of programming indicates a focus on providing different options and the possibil- ity of creating a more cohesive program through varied programmatic offerings. Programs may also be offered by institutions outside of the LTAP and state DOT. Although it is not uncommon for LTAPs to be housed at universities, state transportation workforce planning and development programs expand even beyond the state DOT and LTAPs housed in various locations. Figure 8 shows which non-DOT or non-LTAP education providers are used in addition to the state agencies to provide workforce planning and development initiatives. Figure 7. Answers to âdo your organizationâs employees have any of the following programs available to them?â (n = 31). 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Sta te DO T LT AP Sta te Go ve rn me nt Hi gh er ed uc ati on Pr iva te sec tor N um be r of a ge nc ie s Type of Outside Education Provider Provider of Educational Programming by Area Leadership Career advancement Skills Training Mandatory Training Figure 8. Answers to âwhat outside (not DOT/LTAP provided) education providers do your organizationâs employees use?â [select all that apply].
Survey Development 25 The majority of agencies rely heavily on LTAPs for programming in leadership, career advancement, skills training, and mandatory training. Overall, agencies use a similar number of in-house and state-run programs for all types of training, with most of the training initiating from the state DOTs and LTAPs. Workforce planning initiatives often focus on future needs in the transportation workforce. When asked what skills and knowledge state transportation employees would need in 10 years, respondents answered with various soft (or âpowerâ) skills as well as technical and data-related skills. Many respondents noted the need for both power and hard skills and training. Power Skills â¢ Leadership â¢ Negotiation â¢ Critical thinking â¢ Problem solving â¢ Team work â¢ Creativity â¢ Flexibility â¢ Conflict resolution â¢ Communication â¢ Emotional intelligence Hard Skills â¢ Technology â¢ Programming â¢ Quantitative analysis â¢ Data science Of the 51 respondents that listed âskill sets and knowledge [their] agency need[s] more of over the next 10 years,â 19 of them listed power skills such as leadership, communication, problem solv- ing, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking. Leadership appeared more often (11 times) than any other power skill as a future need. This suggests a need to incorporate leadership training into programs for the current and future workforces. Twenty-one of the 51 respondents (41%) listed technology-related skills as a future need. Nine respondents (18%) included both technology and power skills as future needs showing the broad range of types of skills that the transportation work- force needs to plan for and the importance of multi- and interdisciplinary workforce development. Even communication and collaboration between LTAPs and state DOTs is not a given in many states. Figure 9 shows the self-identified level of communication among agencies in response to the question, âDo your state DOT and LTAP Centers collaborate on training and technical assistance programs?â Only 15 of the 55 responding agencies said they always collaborate, while 25 said sometimes, and 8 said seldom. Some programs or training areas may not benefit from collaboration due to differences in needs and increased costs and time for coordination with collaborative efforts, but it is improbable that there are absolutely no cases where LTAP and state DOT collaboration could be beneficial. This is evident in the response of âneverâ from only one agency. Perhaps the most interesting finding from this question is that leaders in workforce development pro- grams may not even be aware of the coordination. Six survey respondents stated that they do not know whether or not the state DOT and LTAP collaborate. Respondents were asked as a follow-up whether or not the agencies share costs in cases of collaboration. Figure 10 shows the 50 responses to the question, âWhen your state DOT and LTAP Centers collaborate on training and technical assistance programs, do you share financial costs?â
26 Transportation Workforce Planning and Development Strategies As shown in Figure 9, 23 of the 48 (48%) respondents that said they do collaborate to some extent indicated that they âcollaborate and share costs,â and 13 of those have a cost share from the state DOT of over 50%, and 9 are over 50% from the LTAP. Seventeen agencies (35%) âcollaborate but do not share costs.â Regardless of collaborations and funding resourcefulness, state DOTs across the country are facing a need to consider the aging and retiring workforce. Not only is a large percentage of the current workforce approaching retirement age, which is leading to a potential drop in the available workforce in the next 10 years, but the attrition of current employees leaving for other jobs is also a potential drain on the trained transportation workforce. Figure 9. Answers to âdo your state DOT and LTAP centers collaborate on training and technical assistance programs?â.
Survey Development 27 Figure 10. Agency collaboration cost sharing (âwhen your state DOT and LTAP centers collaborate on training and technical assistance programs, do you share financial costs?â). In order to identify reasons that state DOTs may lose qualified workers, the survey asked respondents to list âWhat institutional or market factors do you think are most likely to cause employees to leave your agency?â The question specified to âexclude personal factors such as lifestyle, family, marriage, retirement, health, etc.â The most commonly identified non-personal reason for employees to leave was compensation, including both pay and benefits. Figure 11 shows that 13 state DOTs, 11 LTAPs, and one combined LTAP/state DOT identified compensa- tion as a reason for losing employees. Agencies approach planning for the future workforce in many ways, focusing on training and retaining employees, as well as bringing in the next generation of the workforce. The next section dives into definitions of workforce planning and development provided in survey responses and key elements identified in those definitions. 3.3 Practitionersâ Definitions of Workforce Development There is wide variation in the ways that state DOTs and LTAP officers frame their definitions of workforce development, though the recurring theme across all respondents was a focus on training and skill development. While definitions of both âworkforce developmentâ and âworkforce planningâ vary, work- force planning may be defined as related more to future job needs such as filling positions or new skills. Figure 12 shows how many respondents differentiate between workforce planning and development by agency type. The combined state DOT and LTAP Centers, while a small sample size of only six agencies, do indicate that they clearly know whether or not their agency differentiates, and there is an even split of three respondents indicating that they do and three indicating that they do not. When
28 Transportation Workforce Planning and Development Strategies Figure 11. Number of agencies, by type, listing compensation as a reason for employees to leave the agency (âwhat institutional or market factors do you think are most likely to cause employees to leave your agency?â). Figure 12. Agency differentiation between workforce development and workforce planning (âdo you differentiate between workforce planning and workforce development?â).
Survey Development 29 broken up between LTAPs and state DOTs, more state DOTs differentiate planning and devel- opment, while fewer LTAPs differentiate. When asked, âHow does your department/center define workforce development?â most chose to focus on the training of existing employees: To provide education and training opportunities for its employees to improve their employment-related skills, keep them current in their chosen fields of endeavor, and assist them in achieving their career development goals. Developing the skills necessary for our employees to work efficiently and safely to meet the mission vision and values of our agency. Others delineated a difference between workforce development prior to beginning a transpor- tation job and once the employee is already on the job: Workforce development is defined as activities focused on job-specific training of new and existing workforce as well as awareness training focused [on] K-12 students who are the potential future workforce. Workforce development is viewed as geared toward promoting education and outreach in [my state], with the goal is of developing a broad educational program to expand knowledge and interest in transportation- related careers. Most referenced the agencyâs focus on technical skills building: We provide training in technical topics and areas to the existing workforce that focus on leadership, manage- ment, and planning. Our workforce development courses give local agency staff the technical skills they need to perform and excel in their current and future jobs. Others focused on the human resources component of workforce development: Improving skills of human resources and meeting the needs of industry demand with a skilled workforce. Workforce development is a section within the Office of Human Resources with a focus on training and development of employees. Finally, many respondents mentioned some combination of building skillsets to serve both the employee and the employer, generally: Workforce development includes a combination of technical and behavioral training programs to enhance individual employees as well as a systematic approach to increasing the overall competency and agility of the departmentâs workforce. Developing the skills necessary for our employees to work efficiently and safely to meet the mission vision and values of our agency. In general, working toward agency goals and building skills were common themes through- out many variations of workforce development definitions. Each agency and each state may have different skill set needs and agency visions and goals, which lead to variation in training and development programs. Examining specific elements of different approaches can help states and agencies find best practices and examples that closest match their own internal vision and model. 3.4 Survey Results: Insights from Comments and Responses Respondents were given the opportunity to provide open-ended responses throughout the survey. Some themes resonated from response/comment boxes, sometimes echoed in multiple questions. Notable themes include interagency partnerships, specifically targeted programs, varying program evaluation methods, succession planning, leveraging of non-federal funds, and contracting out various program elements. Technology enhanced programs through webinars and distance learning/online resources appeared as themes throughout many sur- vey questions and case examples at a large majority of the responding agencies (as shown in Table 2).
30 Transportation Workforce Planning and Development Strategies Recurring Themes State Agency Description Interagency, interstate, or inter- organizational partnerships New England DOT Aspiring Leaders development program allows state employees to interact with and learn from peers from other agencies. New England LTAP Engaging with the public works community through program development and implementation to ensure learner and agency input. Plains DOT Programs are conducted along with partnering state agencies and local universities. Southeast DOT Sometimes shares resources with the National Transportation Training Directors and the AASHTO Transportation Curriculum Coordination Council. Rocky Mountain LTAP Indicated that it provides training to tribal entities, who help the LTAP to meet its mission and are partners that ârequire a high degree of competence and fidelity from the LTAP.â The LTAP has recently put together a Succession Planning Task Force made up of DOT agency leaders to develop tools and resources. Rocky Mountain DOT County partners often provide facilities at no cost. Mideast LTAP Shares resources by receiving instructional time from subject matter experts from the U.S. Department of Labor, the DOT, and the state police. Southwest LTAP Shares resources and coordinates trainings through the DOT for local, tribal, and state transportation agency employees. Southwest DOT Uses resources from AASHTOâs Transportation Curriculum Coordination Council, to which it is a paying member. Rocky Mountain DOT Shares resources through a four-state consortium, the Transportation Learning Network. Each member state contributes money to the Network, which delivers technical video conference training and webinars. Specifically targeted programs Mideast LTAP Would like to expand to outreach to high schools, vocational-technical schools, and potential construction industry employees, but has yet to find the appropriate means. Mideast DOT Management, diversity, and intercommunication courses have been successful. Rocky Mountain DOT Considers instruction on workplace behaviors, including temperament types and accountability, to be most effective because they help employees understand othersâ behavioral habits and offer tools and practice for real situations that employees face, respectively. Table 2. Identified workforce planning programming themes.
Survey Development 31 and a âsocial componentâ; and job shadowing. Far West LTAP Most efforts are targeted at developing maintenance and operations skills. The respondent noted that when the agency moves away from those skill sets, program attendance drops. New England DOT Civil engineer training program provides entry-level engineers with the opportunity to work in all aspects of the DOT and helps them develop relationships and obtain a complete view of the organization. Far West LTAP Contracting courses (such as a contract specification writing course) are most successful. Far West DOT Exploring the use of augmented reality to deliver workforce development programs. Plains DOT To evaluate its workforce development programs, the DOT conducts needs assessments of senior managers. Range of evaluation rigor and methods Rocky Mountain DOT Programs are evaluated through annual needs assessments with counties and cities, post-training evaluations, regular discussions about training needs, and evaluation of annual city and county insurance claims. Great Lakes LTAP Employs the Kirkpatrick Model, a four- level training evaluation model, for post- course evaluation, and conducts a return- on-investment analysis for select courses. Southwest DOT Evaluates its workforce development initiatives by assessing the number of training hours per employee (average of 43 hours), training expenditures per employee, percentage of General Educational Development program participants per those who are eligible, participation in the Tuition Assistance Program, training event post-program assessments, and annual surveys of employee engagement. Recurring Themes State Agency Description New England DOT Considered its Transportation Worker Program, a prescribed advancement program with labor and management commitment, as its most successful. Plains LTAP Noted the importance of considering right- of-way training and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for workforce development programs. Plains DOT Leadership and management training, which the agency claims is especially important given the increase in retirements in key positions; the customizable development program for business professionals to focus on both technical and non-technical skills, which includes individualized career coaching (continued on next page) Table 2. (Continued).
32 Transportation Workforce Planning and Development Strategies Rocky Mountain DOT Assesses leadership and development programs with Kirkpatrickâs model. The agency assesses program success by interviewing both employees and managers, and has found that reports of performance improvement are generally slightly higher among the employees themselves than among managers, though both employees and managers do perceive improvements as a result of the leadership courses. Southwest Combined LTAP/DOT Power skills including âcomplex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, and coordinating with othersâ were listed as agency needs in the next 10 years. Supporting aspiring leaders (succession planning) Far West DOT Shift toward a more informal mentorship program that is working better than a previous iteration that was too labor- intensive for mentors. Rocky Mountain LTAP Supervisory Skills and Development Program helps participants with communication and leadership skills. Southeast DOT Project Managers Bootcamp, which teaches managers to be more knowledgeable about project processes, and the New Supervisors Training, which provides participants with a better understanding of human resource policies and the merit system and reinforces leadership principles. Great Lakes DOT A combination of planning for the future, hiring before people leave so they can be shadowed by incoming employees, and having more than 1 month of notice before employees leave or change positions. Rocky Mountain DOT Among the most successful programs has been a program on âleading when you are not in charge.â Mideast DOT Talent Development initiatives provide resources for succession planning. Rocky Mountain DOT Performs pre- and post-training assessments of employee performance. Recurring Themes State Agency Description Rocky Mountain LTAP American Public Works Association and its state Association of Road Supervisors and Engineers scholarships can be used to help cover the costs of the LTAPâs courses. Leveraging non- federal dollars beyond New England LTAP Participant fees and scholarships from partner agencies fund these programs. Great Lakes Combined DOT/LTAP Sometimes relies on instructors from federal agencies, as they are provided at no cost and their travel expenses are covered. Mideast LTAP Receives some state and university funding assistance from an elite private institution with some land grant state- funded undergraduate colleges. Table 2. (Continued).
Survey Development 33 Recurring Themes State Agency Description Great Lakes LTAP Receives an annual grant from the Governorâs Highway Safety Office to pay for NHI courses. Southeast LTAP All workforce development opportunities available to LTAP employees are offered through the university in which the center is housed and are free to participants. Plains LTAP When outside funding is provided, it is usually in the form of conference support or courses paid for by external partners such as equipment dealers or product specialists. Southeast DOT Community college grants funded by state workforce development initiatives. Southeast DOT The only listed funding source is local, which is also a much higher local budget than any other respondent. Great Lakes DOT Sometimes receives federal funding for participation in peer exchanges and other types of training. Southeast LTAP Outside vendors are used for their technical expertise. They are primarily chosen by word of mouth, though they must present an outline and description of content. Far West LTAP The real cost in conducting programs is the student overhead rather than instructors, thus they choose to bring in outside quality instructors. Procurement practices and rationales Far West DOT Contracting out for an industrial/organizational psychologist for a Leadership Development Program is significantly less expensive than to have one on staff. Rocky Mountain LTAP With only two full-time staff, they are unable to host all of their trainings in- house so they must hire contract workers. Plains DOT Some outside vendors are contracted services, while some are classes already available through other organizations. However, the agency recently acquired an in-house trainer to develop and present training courses. Southeast LTAP Because the LTAP is small, it regularly uses outside instructors. Potential instructors must first be observed administering a class. Rocky Mountain DOT Outside vendors must go through the state procurement process by creating a scope of work and, depending on the amount of the purchase, using a Request for Proposals process. Far West LTAP When external vendors are used to provide training, the method of selecting vendors depends on the contract size; Requests for Proposals are used for larger contracts, while familiarity with providers is sufficient for smaller contracts. Table 2. (Continued).
34 Transportation Workforce Planning and Development Strategies The survey included the question, âAre there models and lessons that DOTs/LTAPs should import from other sectors and disciplines?â Many respondents did not answer, or responded âNA,â which likely means there are lessons to be learned, but the respondents do not know what those lessons are. A few respondents mentioned workforce pipeline considerations outside of the field as well as telecommuting flexibility, project management, and apprenticeships and mentoring. 3.5 Summary of Survey Findings Survey results reveal a consistent lack of employees to implement a full training program. The typical state DOT has only a handful of employees to create and administer training pro- grams. Similarly, the typical LTAP is operating with a small staff, although they are sometimes augmented by grant-supported staff. There is little correlation between the size of the state and the number of people tasked with training and workforce development. The survey indicates that training and human resource/workforce planning functions are often located in different organizational units of the state DOT. This divide is even more dra- matic when the LTAP is not located within the state DOT. In some cases, two sets of training are offeredâone by the LTAP and one by a training arm of the state DOT. State DOTs and LTAPs are focused on roadway engineering, safety, and equipment technical instruction. This portfolio of course offerings is limited when compared with the portfolio of a modern state DOT and its constituent regional/local governments. Planning, environmental/ cultural protection, and multimodalism are all key components of the transportation infrastruc- ture program. Although these topics are found in some state DOT/LTAP training catalogs, they are not as universal. Furthermore, many respondents suggest that managerial and leadership trainings are areas of need that are not being adequately addressed.