Increasing Community Awareness Through Youth Career Training Programs
Wisconsin Department of Transportation
In Wisconsin, school children wearing orange vests and hard hats are stand next to a road resurfacing project and learn about careers in transportation.
Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin DOT.
Investing in the Future- Innovative Youth Transportation Career Awareness Project.
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT)
- Dozens of industry, labor and community organizations
- Government agencies
- Students in the fifth through eighth grades
WisDOT sponsors youth-based training programs to promote awareness of careers in transportation. Participation in these training programs allows a diverse group of inner city, rural and urban school children to be exposed to transportation-related programs and careers as well as the job skills needed in the industry. The program:
- Introduces a diverse group of youth to careers in the transportation industry.
- Offers hands-on skill training through involvement with construction projects, site visits, and meetings with industry representatives.
- Demonstrates the link between education in math, science and language with careers.
- Provides simulated project experiences such as reading plans, taking measurements, identifying tools and machinery, building span bridges, rockets and AM crystal radios, surveying land, visiting construction sites and industries, and team building all of this with emphasis on safety. Planned activities include laboratory experiments and computer aided drafting and engineering.
Since the program began in 1999, over a 100 youth in the fifth through eighth grades have attended this weeklong summer project each year. Participants include a mix of boys and girls from both central city and rural communities, with a variety of ethnic groups represented. The program is state funded and is free for its participants. Field trips are taken to observe professionals working on WisDOT road construction projects and handle industry machinery. In the past, visits have been arranged to construction companies, an active quarry, an asphalt plant and gravel pit, Coast Guard and aviation sites. Presentations have been given across the country and a video called, “Career Awareness Project Wisconsin” was developed to promote the concept and disseminate lessons learned about this program.
For the Agencies:
- Introduces Wisconsin's youth to the transportation industry, improving the image of the transportation and construction sectors among parents, students and educators
- Promotes the development of a trained and skilled workforce for these industries in the future.
For the Community:
- Creates an integrated environment in which youth are brought together to participate in team-building exercises that increase their self-esteem environmental awareness, and understanding of various construction concepts.
- Engages and sensitizes an array of industry and government partners about the circumstances and concerns of youth. Leverages the resources of numerous partners to instruct and/or fund field trips for children to observe the operations of transportation facilities and projects.
- Potentially attracts a more diverse workforce into the transportation profession that has traditionally offered good-paying jobs and significant opportunities for career development and advancement.
A self-assessment of the program revealed the following:
- Hands on activities and field trips offered best opportunity to learn.
- Most successful presentations were by those who presented their industry and job as fun and exciting through interactive involvement with participants.
- Packed too much work and not enough fun into week.
- Kids felt that the most important lesson learned was they could make friends with anyone.
- Kids adjusted better to diversity than adults did.
Mary B. Williams
Transportation Programs Coordinator
Civil Rights Program Manager
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration-Wisconsin Division
Phone: (608) 829-7516